Movie and TV Reviews

Tribeca Film Festival Spotlight

88 (Photo by Paul De Lumen)
Four Samosas (Photo by Aakash Raj)
God Save the Queens
God’s Time (Photo by Jeff Melanson)
January (Photo by Andrejs Strokins)
The Lost Weekend: A Love Story (Photo courtesy of May Pang Collection)
Music Pictures: New Orleans
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks (Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Peacock)
Rounding (Photo by Nate Hurtsellers)
Woman on the Roof (Photo by Ita Zbroniec-Zajt)

Reviews for New Releases: June 3 – July 29, 2022

Beba (Photo courtesy of Neon)
The Black Phone (Photo by Fred Norris/Universal Pictures)
Brian and Charles (Photo courtesy of Focus Features)
Cha Cha Real Smooth (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)
Crimes of the Future (Photo courtesy of Neon)
Earwig (Photo courtesy of Juno Films)
Eiffel (Photo courtesy of Blue Fox Entertainment)
Elvis (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)
Fire Island (Photo by Jeong Park/Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
Fire of Love (Photo courtesy of National Geographic Documentary Films)
Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (Image courtesy of GKIDS)
Frank and Penelope (Photo courtesy of Redbud Studios)
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Photo by Nick Wall/Searchlight Pictures/Hulu)
The Janes (Photo courtesy of HBO)
Jurassic World Dominion (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)
Lightyear (Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar)
Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (Image courtesy of A24)
Minions: The Rise of Gru (Photo courtesy of Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures)
The Phantom of the Open (Photo by Nick Wall/Sony Pictures Classics)
Samrat Prithviraj (Photo courtesy of Yash Raj Films)
Watcher (Photo courtesy of IFC Films)

Complete List of Reviews

1BR — horror

2/1 — drama

2 Graves in the Desert — drama

2 Hearts — drama

2 Minutes of Fame — comedy

5 Years Apart — comedy

7 Days (2022) — comedy

8 Billion Angels — documentary

8-Bit Christmas — comedy

The 8th Night — horror

9 Bullets (formerly titled Gypsy Moon) — drama

9to5: The Story of a Movement — documentary

12 Hour Shift — horror

12 Mighty Orphans — drama

17 Blocks — documentary

21mu Tiffin — drama

37 Seconds — drama

76 Days — documentary

88 (2022) — drama

The 355 — action

The 420 Movie (2020) — comedy

499 — docudrama

2040 — documentary

7500 — drama

Abe — drama

About Endlessness — comedy/drama

Above Suspicion (2021) — drama

A Chiara — drama

The Addams Family 2 — animation

Adverse — drama

Advocate — documentary

The Affair (2021) (formerly titled The Glass Room) — drama

After Class (formerly titled Safe Spaces) — comedy/drama

After Parkland — documentary

After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News — documentary

After Yang — sci-fi/drama

Ailey — documentary

AKA Jane Roe — documentary

Algorithm: Bliss — sci-fi/horror

Alice (2022) — drama

Aline (2021) — drama

All Day and a Night — drama

All I Can Say — documentary

All In: The Fight for Democracy — documentary

All Light, Everywhere — documentary

All My Friends Hate Me — comedy/drama

All My Life — drama

All My Puny Sorrows — drama

All Roads to Pearla (formerly titled Sleeping in Plastic) — drama

All the Bright Places — drama

Almost Love (also titled Sell By) — comedy/drama

Alone (2020) (starring Jules Willcox) — horror

Alone (2020) (starring Tyler Posey) — horror

Alpha Rift — action

The Alpinist — documentary

Amalgama — comedy/drama

Amazing Grace (2018) — documentary

Ambulance (2022) — action

American Fighter — drama

American Gadfly — documentary

An American Pickle — comedy

American Street Kid — documentary

American Underdog — drama

American Woman (2020) — drama

Ammonite — drama

Amulet — horror

The Ancestral — horror

And Then We Danced — drama

Annette — musical

Another Round — drama

Antebellum — horror

Anthony — drama

Antlers (2021) — horror

Apocalypse ’45 — documentary

The Apollo — documentary

The Arbors — sci-fi/horror

The Argument — comedy

Army of the Dead (2021) — horror

Artemis Fowl — fantasy

The Artist’s Wife — drama

Ascension (2021) — documentary

Ask for Jane — drama

Ask No Questions — documentary

As of Yet — comedy/drama

The Assistant — drama

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal — documentary

Athlete A — documentary

Attack of the Murder Hornets — documentary

Azor — drama

Baby God — documentary

Babysplitters — comedy

Babyteeth — drama

Bacurau — drama

Bad Boys for Life — action

Bad Detectives (formerly titled Year of the Detectives) — drama

Bad Education (2020) — drama

The Bad Guys (2022) — animation

Badhaai Do — comedy/drama

Bad Therapy (formerly titled Judy Small) — comedy/drama

Ballad of a White Cow — drama

Banana Split — comedy

Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art — documentary

A Banquet — horror

Barbarians (2022) — horror

Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar — comedy

The Batman — sci-fi/action

The Battle at Lake Changjin — action

The Battle at Lake Changjin II — action

Beanpole — drama

Beast Beast — drama

Beastie Boys Story — documentary

The Beatles: Get Back — documentary

The Beatles: Get Back—The Rooftop Concert — documentary

Beba — documentary

Becoming — documentary

Behind You — horror

Being the Ricardos — drama

Belfast (2021) — drama

Belle (2021) — animation

Beneath Us — horror

Benedetta (also titled Blessed Virgin) — drama

Bergman Island (2021) — drama

Best Sellers (2021) — comedy/drama

The Beta Test — comedy/drama

Better Nate Than Ever — comedy/drama

Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 — horror/comedy

Big Time Adolescence — comedy/drama

The Big Ugly — drama

Billie (2020) — documentary

Bill & Ted Face the Music — sci-fi/comedy

The Binge — comedy

Bingo Hell — horror

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) — fantasy/action

Black as Night — horror

Black Bear — drama

Blackbird (2020) — drama

Black Box (2020) — horror

Black Box (2021) — drama

Black Is King — musical

Blacklight — action

Black Magic for White Boys — comedy

The Black Phone — horror

Black Widow (2021) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Blast Beat — drama

The Blazing World (2021) — horror

Blessed Child — documentary

Blithe Spirit (2021) — comedy

Blood and Money — drama

Blood Conscious — horror

Blood on Her Name — drama

Bloodshot (2020) — sci-fi/action

Bloodthirsty (2021) — horror

Bloody Hell — horror

Blow the Man Down — drama

Blue Bayou (2021) — drama

Blue Story — drama

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island — horror

The Bob’s Burgers Movie — animation

Body Cam — horror

The Body Fights Back — documentary

Bố Già (Dad, I’m Sorry) — comedy/drama

Boogie — drama

The Booksellers — documentary

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm — comedy

The Boss Baby: Family Business — animation

Box of Rain — documentary

The Boys (first episode) — fantasy/action

Brahms: The Boy II — horror

Breaking (2022) (formerly titled 892) — drama

Breaking Fast — comedy

Breaking News in Yuba County — comedy

Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists — documentary

Brian and Charles — comedy/drama

The Broken Hearts Gallery — comedy

Brothers by Blood (formerly titled The Sound of Philadelphia) — drama

Browse — drama

Buckley’s Chance — drama

Buffaloed — comedy

Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn — documentary

Burden (2020) — drama

Burning Cane — drama

The Burning Sea — action

Burn It All — drama

The Burnt Orange Heresy — drama

Cactus Jack — horror

Cagefighter — drama

Calendar Girl (2022) — documentary

The Call of the Wild (2020) — live-action/animation

A Call to Spy — drama

Call Your Mother — documentary

Candyman (2021) — horror

Cane River — drama

Capone — drama

The Card Counter — drama

Carmilla — drama

Castle in the Ground — drama

Catch the Bullet — action

Catch the Fair One — drama

The Cellar (2022) — horror

Censor (2021) — horror

Centigrade — drama

Cha Cha Real Smooth — comedy/drama

Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring World — documentary

Changing the Game (2021) — documentary

Chasing the Present — documentary

Chasing Wonders — drama

Chehre — drama

Chick Fight — comedy

Children of the Sea — animation

Chinese Doctors — drama

Chop Chop — horror

Circus of Books — documentary

City of Lies — drama

Clean (2022) — drama

The Cleaner (2021) — drama

The Clearing (2020) — horror

Clementine — drama

Clifford the Big Red Dog (2021) — live-action/animation

Cliff Walkers (formerly titled Impasse) — drama

The Climb (2020) — comedy/drama

Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind: Contact Has Begun — documentary

Cloudy Mountain (2021) — action

Clover — drama

C’mon C’mon — drama

Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert — documentary

CODA — comedy/drama

Coded Bias (formerly titled Code for Bias) — documentary

Coffee & Kareem — comedy

Collective — documentary

Color Out of Space — sci-fi/horror

The Columnist — horror

Come as You Are (2020) — comedy

Come Play — horror

Come to Daddy — horror

Come True — sci-fi/drama

Coming 2 America — comedy

Compartment No. 6 — drama

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It — horror

Console Wars — documentary

The Contractor (2022) (formerly titled Violence of Action) — action

Copshop (2021) — action

The Cordillera of Dreams — documentary

Count Basie: Through His Own Eyes — documentary

The Courier (2021) (formerly titled Ironbark) — drama

Cow (2022) — documentary

The Craft: Legacy — horror

Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words — documentary

Creem: America’s Only Rock’n’Roll Magazine — documentary

Crimes of the Future — horror

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution — documentary

Crisis (2021) — drama

Critical Thinking — drama

Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan — documentary

The Croods: A New Age — animation

Crown Vic — drama

CRSHD — comedy

Cruella — comedy/drama

Cry Macho — drama

Cryptozoo — animation

The Cursed (2022) (formerly titled Eight for Silver) — horror

The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw — horror

The Curse of La Patasola — horror

Cut Throat City — drama

Cyrano (2021) — musical

Da 5 Bloods — drama

Daddy Issues (2020) — comedy

Dads — documentary

Dangerous Lies — drama

Dara of Jasenovac — drama

The Dark Divide — drama

Dark Web: Cicada 3301 — action/comedy

Dating & New York — comedy

Dave Not Coming Back — documentary

Dawn Raid — documentary

A Day in the Life of America — documentary

Days of Rage: The Rolling Stones’ Road to Altamont — documentary

Days of the Whale — drama

A Deadly Legend — horror

Deadstream — horror

Dear Evan Hansen — musical

Dear Santa — documentary

Death in Texas — drama

Death of a Telemarketer — comedy

Death on the Nile (2022) — drama

Decade of Fire — documentary

The Deeper You Dig — horror

Deep Water (2022) — drama

Deerskin — comedy

The Delicacy — documentary

Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil — documentary

Demonic (2021) — horror

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba The Movie: Mugen Train — animation

Denise Ho—Becoming the Song — documentary

Desolation Center — documentary

Desperados — comedy

The Desperate Hour (formerly titled Lakewood) — drama

The Devil Below (formerly titled Shookum Hills) — horror

Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge — horror

Devil’s Pie—D’Angelo — documentary

The Devil You Know (2022) — drama

Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy — documentary

Die in a Gunfight — action

Disappearance at Clifton Hill — drama

The Disappearance of Mrs. Wu — comedy/drama

Disclosure (2020) — documentary

Diving With Dolphins — documentary

The Djinn — horror

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Dog (2022) — comedy/drama

The Dog Doc — documentary

Dolittle — live-action/animation

Dolphin Island — drama

Dolphin Reef — documentary

Do Not Reply — horror

Don’t Breathe 2 — horror

Don’t Look Back (2020) (formerly titled Good Samaritan) — horror

Don’t Look Up (2021) — comedy

The Doorman (2020) — action

Dosed — documentary

Downhill — comedy

Downton Abbey: A New Era — drama

Dream Horse — drama

Dreamland (2020) (starring Margot Robbie) — drama

Drive My Car (2021) — drama

Driven to Abstraction — documentary

Driveways — drama

Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America — documentary

The Dry — drama

The Duke (2021) — comedy/drama

Dune (2021) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Duty Free — documentary

Earwig — horror

The East (2021) — drama

Easy Does It — comedy

Eggs Over Easy — documentary

Eiffel — drama

El Cuartito — comedy/drama

Elephant (2020) — documentary

Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things — documentary

Elvis (2022) — drama

Embattled — drama

Emergency (2022) — comedy

Emma (2020) — comedy/drama

The Emoji Story (formerly titled Picture Character) — documentary

Encanto — animation

Endangered Species (2021) — drama

End of Sentence — drama

Enemies of the State (2021) — documentary

Enforcement (formerly titled Shorta) — drama

Enhanced (2021) (also titled Mutant Outcasts) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Enola Holmes — drama

Entwined (2020) — horror

Epicentro — documentary

Escape From Mogadishu — drama

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions — horror

Escape the Field — horror

Eternals (2021) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

The Etruscan Smile (also titled Rory’s Way) — drama

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga — comedy

Everything Everywhere All at Once — sci-fi/action

Evil Eye (2020) — horror

The Evil Next Door — horror

Exit Plan — drama

Extraction (2020) — action

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) — drama

F3: Fun and Frustration — comedy

F9: The Fast Saga — action

A Fall From Grace — drama

Falling (2021) — drama

Falling for Figaro — comedy/drama

The Fallout — drama

Family Camp — comedy

Family Squares — comedy/drama

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore — fantasy

Farewell Amor — drama

Fatal Affair (2020) — drama

Fatale — drama

The Father (2021) — drama

Father Stu — drama

Fatima (2020) — drama

Fatman — comedy

Fear of Rain — horror

The Feast (2021) — horror

The Fight (2020) — documentary

Finch — sci-fi/drama

Finding Kendrick Johnson — documentary

Finding You (2021) — drama

Firebird (2021) — drama

Fire Island (2022) — comedy

Fire of Love (2022) — documentary

Firestarter (2022) — horror

First Cow — drama

First Date (2021) — comedy

Flag Day — drama

Flashback (2021) (formerly titled The Education of Frederick Fitzell) — drama

Flee — documentary/animation

Flipped (2020) — comedy

Force of Nature (2020) — action

The Forever Purge — horror

For They Know Not What They Do — documentary

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko — animation

The Forty-Year-Old Version — comedy

Four Good Days — drama

Four Kids and It — fantasy

Four Samosas — comedy

Framing John DeLorean — documentary

Frank and Penelope — drama

Freaky — horror

Free Guy — sci-fi/action

The French Dispatch — comedy

French Exit — comedy/drama

Fresh (2022) — horror

Friendsgiving — comedy

From the Vine — comedy/drama

Funhouse (2021) — horror

Gaia (2021) — horror

Game of Death (2020) — horror

Ganden: A Joyful Land — documentary

Gap Year (2020) — documentary

The Garden Left Behind — drama

The Gasoline Thieves — drama

The Gateway (2021) — drama

Gay Chorus Deep South — documentary

The Gentlemen — action

Get Duked! (formerly titled Boyz in the Wood) — comedy

Get Gone — horror

Ghostbusters: Afterlife — comedy/horror

The Ghost of Peter Sellers — documentary

Ghosts of the Ozarks — horror

A Girl From Mogadishu — drama

A Girl Missing — drama

A Glitch in the Matrix — documentary

The God Committee — drama

God Save the Queens (2022) — comedy/drama

God’s Time — comedy

Godzilla vs. Kong — sci-fi/fantasy/action

The Go-Go’s — documentary

Gold (2022) — drama

Golden Arm — comedy

Goldie — drama

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande — comedy/drama

Good Posture — comedy

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind — documentary

Greed — comedy/drama

The Green Knight — horror/fantasy

Greenland — sci-fi/action

Gretel & Hansel — horror

Greyhound — drama

The Grudge (2020) — horror

Guest of Honour — drama

The Guilty (2021) — drama

Gunda — documentary

Half Brothers — comedy

The Half of It — comedy

Halloween Kills — horror

Halloween Party (2020) — horror

Happening (2021) — drama

Happiest Season — comedy

The Harder They Fall (2021) — action

Hard Luck Love Song — drama

Hatching — horror

The Hater (2022) — comedy/drama

Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics — documentary

Haymaker (2021) — drama

Healing From Hate: Battle for the Soul of a Nation — documentary

He Dreams of Giants — documentary

Held — horror

Hell Hath No Fury (2021) — action

Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful — documentary

Here After (2021) (formerly titled Faraway Eyes) — drama

Here Are the Young Men — drama

Here Today — comedy/drama

A Hero — drama

Hero Dog: The Journey Home — drama

Hero Mode — comedy

Herself — drama

The High Note — comedy/drama

His House — horror

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard — action

Hive — drama

A Holiday Chance — comedy/drama

Holler — drama

Holly Slept Over — comedy

Honest Thief — action

Hooking Up (2020) — comedy

Hope Gap — drama

Horse Girl — sci-fi/drama

The Host (2020) — horror

Hosts — horror

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania — animation

The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 — comedy/horror

House of Gucci — drama

House of Hummingbird — drama

How It Ends (2021) — comedy

How to Build a Girl — comedy

How to Fix a Primary — documentary

Huda’s Salon — drama

Human Capital (2020) — drama

Human Nature (2020) — documentary

The Humans (2021) — drama

The Hunt — horror

Hunter Hunter — horror

Hypochondriac (2022) — horror

Hysterical (2021) — documentary

I Am Human — documentary

I Am Somebody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story — drama

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation — action

I Carry You With Me — drama

If I Can’t Have You: The Jodi Arias Story — documentary

I Hate New York — documentary

I Hate the Man in My Basement — drama

I Love My Dad — comedy

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me — documentary

Impractical Jokers: The Movie — comedy

I’m Thinking of Ending Things — drama

I’m Your Man (2021) — sci-fi/comedy/drama

I’m Your Woman — drama

Incitement — drama

India Sweets and Spices — comedy/drama

Infamous (2020) — drama

The Infiltrators — docudrama

Infinite Storm — drama

The Informer (2020) — drama

Initials SG — drama

Inna De Yard: The Soul of Jamaica — documentary

The Innocents (2021) — horror

In Our Mothers’ Gardens — documentary

Instaband — documentary

In the Earth — horror

In the Footsteps of Elephant — documentary

In the Heights — musical

Intrusion (2021) — drama

The Invisible Man (2020) — horror

Iron Mask (formerly titled The Mystery of the Dragon Seal) — fantasy/action

Irresistible (2020) — comedy

I Still Believe — drama

Italian Studies — drama

It Takes a Lunatic — documentary

It Takes Three (2021) — comedy

I Used to Go Here — comedy/drama

I’ve Got Issues — comedy

I Want My MTV — documentary

I Will Make You Mine — drama

Jackass Forever — comedy

Jakob’s Wife — horror

The Janes — documentary

January (2022) — drama

Jayeshbhai Jordaar — comedy

Jay Myself — documentary

Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story — documentary

Jethica — comedy/drama

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey — musical

Jiu Jitsu — sci-fi/action

Jockey (2021) — drama

Joe Bell (formerly titled Good Joe Bell) — drama

John and the Hole — drama

John Henry — action

John Lewis: Good Trouble — documentary

JonBenét Ramsey: What Really Happened? — documentary

A Journal for Jordan — drama

Judas and the Black Messiah (formerly titled Jesus Was My Homeboy) — drama

Judy & Punch — drama

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 — animation

Jungle Cruise — fantasy/action

Jungleland (2020) — drama

Jurassic World Dominion — sci-fi/action

Kajillionaire — comedy/drama

Karen (2021) — drama

Kat and the Band — comedy

Kaye Ballard: The Show Goes On! — documentary

Kehvatlal Parivar — comedy/drama

Kicking Blood — horror

Kid Candidate — documentary

Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections — documentary

Killer Among Us — horror

Killer Therapy — horror

Killian & the Comeback Kids — drama

The Killing of Two Lovers — drama

The Kill Team (2019) — drama

Kill the Monsters — drama

The Kindness of Strangers — drama

Kindred — drama

The King of Staten Island — comedy/drama

King Otto — documentary

King Richard — drama

The King’s Daughter (formerly titled The Moon and the Sun) — fantasy/drama

The King’s Man — action

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time — documentary

La Guerra Civil — documentary

Lair — horror

La Llorona — horror

Lamb (2021) — horror

Land (2021) — drama

Lansky (2021) — drama

The Last Duel (2021) — drama

The Last Full Measure — drama

The Last Glaciers — documentary

Last Night in Soho — horror

The Last Vermeer — drama

The Lawyer — drama

Leftover Women — documentary

Les Misérables (2019) — drama

Let Him Go — drama

Licorice Pizza — comedy/drama

The Lie (2020) — drama

Life in a Day 2020 — documentary

Lightyear — animation

Like a Boss — comedy

Limbo (2021) — comedy/drama

Limerence — comedy

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice — documentary

Lingua Franca — drama

Little Fish (2021) — sci-fi/drama

The Little Things (2021) — drama

The Lodge — horror

The Longest Wave — documentary

Long Live Rock…Celebrate the Chaos — documentary

Long Weekend (2021) — sci-fi/drama

Lorelei (2021) — drama

Lost Bayou — drama

The Lost City (2022) — comedy

The Lost Daughter (2021) — drama

Lost Girls — drama

Lost Transmissions — drama

The Lost Weekend: A Love Story — documentary

Los Últimos Frikis — documentary

A Lot of Nothing — comedy/drama

Love and Monsters — sci-fi/horror/action

The Lovebirds — comedy

Love Is Love Is Love — drama

Love Sarah — comedy/drama

Love Type D — comedy

Love Wedding Repeat — comedy

Low Tide — drama

Luca (2021) — animation

Lucky Grandma — action

Lucy and Desi — documentary

Luz: The Flower of Evil — horror

LX 2048 — sci-fi/drama

Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over — documentary

Ma Belle, My Beauty — drama

Madres (2021) — horror

Mai Khoi & the Dissidents — documentary

The Main Event (2020) — action

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound— documentary

Malignant (2021) — horror

Mallory (2021) — documentary

Mama Weed — comedy/drama

Mandibles — comedy

Mank — drama

The Manor (2021) — horror

The Man Who Sold His Skin — drama

The Many Saints of Newark — drama

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — drama

Marathon (2021) — comedy

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On — live-action/animation

Mark, Mary & Some Other People — comedy

The Marksman (2021) — action

Marry Me (2022) — comedy

Martha: A Picture Story — documentary

Martin Margiela: In His Own Words — documentary

Masquerade (2021) — horror

Mass (2021) — drama

Master (2022) — horror

The Matrix Resurrections — sci-fi/action

Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back — documentary

The Mauritanian — drama

Mayday (2021) — action

Measure of Revenge — drama

Meat Me Halfway — documentary

Memoria (2021) — sci-fi/drama

Memory (2022) — action

Men (2022) — horror

Midnight in the Switchgrass — drama

Mighty Ira — documentary

Mighty Oak — drama

Military Wives — comedy/drama

The Mimic (2021) — comedy

Minari — drama

The Mindfulness Movement — documentary

Minions: The Rise of Gru — animation

Misbehaviour — drama

Miss Americana — documentary

Miss Juneteenth — drama

The Mitchells vs. the Machines — animation

MLK/FBI — documentary

Moffie — drama

The Mole Agent — documentary

Monday (2021) — drama

Monster Family 2 — animation

Monster Hunter — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Montana Story — drama

Moonfall (2022) — sci-fi/action

Morbius — horror/action

Mortal — sci-fi/action

Mortal Kombat (2021) — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Most Dangerous Game — sci-fi/action

Most Wanted (formerly titled Target Number One) — drama

Mother, I Am Suffocating. This Is My Last Film About You. — docudrama

Mothering Sunday — drama

A Mouthful of Air — drama

Move Me (2022) — documentary

Mr. Soul! — documentary

Mucho Mucho Amor: The Legend of Walter Mercado — documentary

Mulan (2020) — fantasy/action

Murder in the Front Row: The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story — documentary

Murder to Mercy: The Cyntoia Brown Story — documentary

Music Pictures: New Orleans — documentary

My Boyfriend’s Meds — comedy

My Country, My Parents (also titled My Country, My Family) — drama

My Dad’s Christmas Date — comedy/drama

My Darling Vivian — documentary

My Love (2021) — comedy/drama

My Octopus Teacher — documentary

My Salinger Year (also titled My New York Year) — drama

My Spy — comedy

Mystify: Michael Hutchence — documentary

Naked Singularity — drama

Nanny — horror

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind — documentary

National Champions — drama

Navalny — documentary

Needle in a Timestack — sci-fi/drama

The Nest (2020) — drama

Never Forget Tibet — documentary

Never Gonna Snow Again — drama

Never Rarely Sometimes Always — drama

Never Stop (2021) — drama

Never Too Late (2020) — comedy

New Order (2021) — drama

News of the World — drama

A Nice Girl Like You — comedy

The Night (2021) — horror

The Night House — horror

Nightmare Alley (2021) — drama

Night of the Kings — drama

Nightride (2022) — drama

Nina Wu — drama

Nine Days — drama

Nitram — drama

Noah Land — drama

Nobody (2021) — sci-fi/action

Nocturne (2020) — horror

No Exit (2022) — drama

Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin — documentary

Nomadland — drama

No Man’s Land (2021) — drama

The Northman —fantasy/action

No Small Matter — documentary

No Time to Die (2021) — action

Notturno — documentary

The Novice (2021) — drama

The Nowhere Inn — comedy/drama

Objects — documentary

Old — horror

The Old Guard — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Old Henry (2021) — drama

Olympia — documentary

Olympic Dreams — comedy/drama

On Broadway (2021) — documentary

Once Upon a River — drama

Once Upon a Time in Uganda — documentary

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band — documentary

One Hour Outcall — drama

One Night in Bangkok — drama

One Night in Miami… — drama

Only — sci-fi/drama

The Only One (2021) — drama

On the Record — documentary

On the Rocks (2020) — drama

On the Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries — documentary

Onward — animation

Open — drama

Ordinary Love — drama

Origin of the Species (2021) — documentary

Otherhood — comedy

The Other Lamb — drama

Other Music — documentary

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles — documentary

Our Friend (formerly titled The Friend) — drama

Our Ladies — comedy/drama

Our Time Machine — documentary

The Outfit (2022) — drama

Out of Blue — drama

The Outpost — drama

Out Stealing Horses — drama

Paap Punyo —drama

The Painter and the Thief — documentary

Palm Springs —sci-fi/comedy

Paper Spiders — drama

The Paper Tigers — action

Parallel (2020) — sci-fi/drama

Parallel Mothers — drama

Paranormal Prison — horror

Paris, 13th District — drama

Parkland Rising — documentary

Passing (2021) — drama

A Patient Man — drama

PAW Patrol: The Movie — animation

A Perfect Enemy — drama

The Personal History of David Copperfield — comedy/drama

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway — live-action/animation

Petite Maman — drama

The Phantom of the Open — comedy/drama

Phobias (2021) — horror

The Photograph — drama

Pig (2021) — drama

The Place of No Words — drama

The Planters — comedy

Playing God (2021) — comedy

Pleasure (2021) — drama

Plucked — documentary

Plus One (2019) — comedy

The Pollinators — documentary

Pornstar Pandemic: The Guys — documentary

Port Authority (2021) — drama

Possessor Uncut — sci-fi/horror

The Power of the Dog — drama

Premature (2020) — drama

The Prey (2020) — action

The Price of Desire — drama

The Princess (2022) — documentary

Prisoners of the Ghostland — sci-fi/action

Profile (2021) — drama

Project Power — sci-fi/action

Promising Young Woman — comedy/drama

The Protégé (2021) — action

Proxima — sci-fi/drama

P.S. Burn This Letter Please — documentary

Public Enemy Number One — documentary

PVT CHAT — drama

Queenpins — comedy

The Quiet One (2019) — documentary

A Quiet Place Part II — sci-fi/horror

Quo Vadis, Aida? — drama

The Racer — drama

Radioactive — drama

Raging Fire — action

A Rainy Day in New York — comedy

Raising Buchanan — comedy

Rare Beasts — comedy

Ravening (formerly titled Aamis) — drama

Raya and the Last Dragon — animation

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks — documentary

Rebuilding Paradise — documentary

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project — documentary

Redeeming Love — drama

Red Penguins — documentary

Red Rocket — comedy/drama

Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs — animation

A Regular Woman — drama

Relic — horror

Reminiscence (2021) — sci-fi/drama

The Rental (2020) — horror

Rent-A-Pal — horror

The Rescue List — documentary

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City — horror

Resistance (2020) — drama

Respect (2021) — drama

Retaliation (formerly titled Romans) — drama

The Retreat (2021) — horror

Rewind — documentary

The Rhythm Section — action

The Ride (2020) — drama

Ride Like a Girl — drama

Riders of Justice — drama

Ride the Eagle — comedy/drama

The Right One — comedy

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It — documentary

River City Drumbeat — documentary

RK/RKAY — comedy

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain — documentary

Roald Dahl’s The Witches — horror/fantasy

Robert the Bruce — drama

Ron’s Gone Wrong — animation

The Rookies (2021) — action

Room 203 — horror

Rounding — drama

The Roundup (2022) — action

Run (2020) — drama

Runner — documentary

Run With the Hunted — drama

Rushed — drama

Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words — documentary

Safer at Home — drama

Saint Frances — comedy/drama

Saint Maud — horror

Saloum — horror

Samrat Prithviraj (formerly titled Prithviraj) — action

Save Yourselves! — sci-fi/horror/comedy

Saving Paradise — drama

The Scheme (2020) — documentary

Scheme Birds — documentary

School’s Out Forever — horror

Scoob! — animation

Scream (2022) — horror

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street — documentary

Screened Out — documentary

Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth (formerly titled Seahorse) — documentary

Seberg — drama

The Secret: Dare to Dream — drama

A Secret Love — documentary

The Secrets We Keep — drama

See for Me — horror

See Know Evil — documentary

See You Yesterday — sci-fi/drama

Selah and the Spades — drama

Sell/Buy/Date — documentary

Separation (2021) — horror

Sergio (2020) — drama

Sesame Street: 50 Years of Sunny Days — documentary

Settlers (2021) — sci-fi/drama

The Seventh Day (2021) — horror

Shadows of Freedom — documentary

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — fantasy/action

Shattered (2022) — drama

She Dies Tomorrow — drama

She’s in Portland — drama

Shine Your Eyes — drama

Shirley — drama

Shithouse — comedy/drama

Shortcut — horror

The Short History of the Long Road — drama

A Shot Through the Wall — drama

Showbiz Kids — documentary

The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock — documentary

Siberia (2021) — drama

Silent Night (2021) (starring Keira Knightley) — comedy/drama

Silk Road (2021) — drama

A Simple Wedding — comedy

Sing 2 — animation

The Sinners (2021) (also titled The Virgin Sinners; formerly titled The Color Rose) — horror

Sissy — horror

Six Minutes to Midnight — drama

Skate Dreams — documentary

Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story — documentary

Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons — documentary

Skin Walker — horror

Skyman — sci-fi/drama

Slay the Dragon — documentary

Small Engine Repair (2021) — comedy/drama

Smiley Face Killers — horror

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Sno Babies — drama

Soft & Quiet — drama

Somebody Up There Likes Me (2020) — documentary

Some Kind of Heaven — documentary

Sometimes Always Never — comedy/drama

The Sonata — horror

Songbird — sci-fi/drama

Sonic the Hedgehog — live-action/animation

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 — live-action/animation

Son of Monarchs — drama

Sorry We Missed You — drama

Soul — animation

Soulmates (2021) — comedy

The Sound of Identity — documentary

Sound of Metal — drama

The Sound of Violet (formerly titled Hooked) — drama

The Souvenir Part II — drama

Space Jam: A New Legacy — live-action/amination

Spaceship Earth — documentary

The Sparks Brothers — documentary

Spell (2020) — horror

Spelling the Dream (formerly titled Breaking the Bee) — documentary

Spencer — drama

Spider-Man: No Way Home — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Spiral (2021) — horror

Spirit Untamed — animation

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run — live-action/animation

Spontaneous — sci-fi/horror/comedy

Sputnik — sci-fi/horror

Standing Up, Falling Down — comedy/drama

Stardust (2020) — drama

Starting at Zero — documentary

The State of Texas vs. Melissa — documentary

Stealing School — comedy/drama

Stevenson Lost & Found — documentary

Still Here (2020) — drama

Stillwater (2021) — drama

The Story of Soaps — documentary

The Stranger (Quibi original) — drama

Stray (2021) — documentary

Stray Dolls — drama

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street — documentary

Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash — drama

Studio 666 (2022) — horror/comedy

The Stylist — horror

Subjects of Desire — documentary

Sublime — documentary

Sugar Daddy (2021) — drama

The Suicide Squad — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Summerland — drama

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) — documentary

Sundown (2022) — drama

The Sunlit Night — comedy/drama

Supernova (2021) — drama

The Surrogate — drama

Survive — drama

Swallow — drama

Swan Song (2021) (starring Mahershala Ali) — sci-fi/drama

Swan Song (2021) (starring Udo Kier) — comedy/drama

Sweetheart Deal — documentary

Sweet Thing (2021) — drama

The Swerve — drama

The Swing of Things — comedy

Sylvie’s Love — drama

Synchronic — sci-fi/horror

Take Back — action

Take Me to the River: New Orleans — documentary

Tango Shalom — comedy/drama

Tankhouse — comedy

Tape (2020) — drama

Tar — horror

A Taste of Hunger — drama

A Taste of Sky — documentary

Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman — horror

The Tender Bar — drama

Ten Minutes to Midnight — horror

Terrorizers — drama

Tesla — drama

Then Came You (2020) — comedy

They Call Me Dr. Miami — documentary

The Thing About Harry — comedy

Think Like a Dog — comedy/drama

This Is Personal — documentary

This Is Stand-Up — documentary

This Is the Year — comedy

Those Who Wish Me Dead — drama

A Thousand Cuts (2020) — documentary

A Thread of Deceit: The Hart Family Tragedy — documentary

Through the Night (2020) — documentary

Tick, Tick…Boom! — musical

Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison — comedy

Time (2020) — documentary

Time Is Up (2021) — drama

The Times of Bill Cunningham — documentary

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made — comedy

The Tinder Swindler — documentary

Titane — horror

The Tobacconist — drama

Together (2021) — comedy/drama

Together Together — comedy/drama

To Kid or Not to Kid — documentary

To Kill the Beast — drama

Tom and Jerry — live-action/animation

Tommaso — drama

Tom of Your Life — sci-fi/comedy

Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflowers — documentary

Too Late (2021) — horror/comedy

Top Gun: Maverick — action

The Torch (2022) — documentary

Totally Under Control — documentary

Trafficked: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare — drama

The Tragedy of Macbeth — drama

The Trial of the Chicago 7 — drama

The Trip to Greece — comedy

Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts — documentary

Trolls World Tour — animation

Troop Zero — comedy

The True Adventures of Wolfboy — drama

The Truffle Hunters — documentary

Trust (2021) — drama

The Truth — drama

The Turning (2020) — horror

Turning Red — animation

Twas the Night (2021) — comedy

The Twentieth Century — comedy

Two of Us (2021) — drama

Tyson (2019) — documentary

Tyson’s Run — drama

Ultrasound — sci-fi/drama

Umma (2022) — horror

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent — action/comedy

Unbelievable (premiere episode) — drama

Uncaged (also titled Prey) – horror

Uncharted (2022) — action

Uncorked — drama

Under the Volcano (2021) — documentary

Underwater — sci-fi/horror

Undine (2021) — drama

Unhinged (2020) — action

The Unholy (2021) — horror

The United States vs. Billie Holiday — drama

Un Rescate de Huevitos — animation

The Unthinkable — drama

Until We Meet Again (2022) — drama

Up From the Streets: New Orleans: The City of Music — documentary

Uprooting Addiction — documentary

Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own — documentary

Utama — drama

Val — documentary

Valley Girl (2020) — musical

The Vanished (2020) (formerly titled Hour of Lead)— drama

Vanquish (2021) — action

The Vast of Night — sci-fi/drama

Vengeance Is Mine (2021) — action

Venom: Let There Be Carnage — sci-fi/fantasy/action

The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee — comedy

The Vigil (2021) — horror

The Village in the Woods — horror

Violet (2021) — drama

Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations — documentary

The Virtuoso (2021) — drama

Vivarium — sci-fi/drama

Voyagers — sci-fi/drama

Waiting for the Barbarians — drama

Wander Darkly — drama

The War With Grandpa — comedy

Watcher (2022) — horror

Watson — documentary

The Way Back (2020) — drama

We Are Freestyle Love Supreme — documentary

We Are Little Zombies — comedy/drama

We Are Many — documentary

We Are the Radical Monarchs — documentary

Weathering With You — animation

We Broke Up — comedy

Welcome to Chechnya — documentary

We Need to Do Something — horror

Werewolves Within — horror/comedy

West Side Story (2021) — musical

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali — documentary

What We Found — drama

What Will Become of Us (2019) — documentary

When the Streetlights Go On — drama

The Whistlers — drama

A White, White Day — drama

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America — documentary

Widow of Silence — drama

Wig — documentary

Wild Indian — drama

Wild Mountain Thyme — drama

Willy’s Wonderland — horror

The Windermere Children — drama

Wine Crush (Vas-y Coupe!) (formerly titled Vas-y Coupe!) — documentary

Witch Hunt (2021) — horror

Wojnarowicz — documentary

Wolf (2021) — drama

The Wolf and the Lion — drama

The Wolf House — animation

The Wolf of Snow Hollow — horror

Woman on the Roof — drama

A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem — documentary

Women (2021) — horror

Wonder Woman 1984 — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation — documentary

Words on Bathroom Walls — drama

Work It — comedy/drama

The World to Come — drama

The Worst Person in the World — comedy/drama

Worst to First: The True Story of Z100 New York — documentary

Wrath of Man — action

The Wretched — horror

A Writer’s Odyssey — fantasy/action

The Wrong Missy — comedy

Wyrmwood: Apocalypse — horror

X (2022) — horror

XY Chelsea — documentary

Yakuza Princess — action

¿Y Cómo Es Él? — comedy

Yellow Rose — drama

You Are Not My Mother — horror

You Cannot Kill David Arquette — documentary

You Don’t Nomi — documentary

You Go to My Head — drama

You Should Have Left — horror

You Won’t Be Alone — horror

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn — documentary

Zack Snyder’s Justice League — sci-fi/fantasy/action

Zappa — documentary

Zeros and Ones — drama

Zola — comedy/drama

Zombi Child — horror

Review: ‘Music Pictures: New Orleans,’ starring Irma Thomas, Benny Jones Sr., Little Freddie King and Ellis Marsalis Jr.

June 28, 2022

by Carla Hay

Little Freddie King in “Music Pictures: New Orleans”

“Music Pictures: New Orleans”

Directed by Ben Chace

Culture Representation: The documentary “Music Pictures: New Orleans” (which was filmed in 2020 and 2021) features a racially diverse (African Americans and white people) group of music artists and people in the New Orleans music scene talking about Irma Thomas, Benny Jones Sr., Little Freddie King and Ellis Marsalis Jr., who all participated in the documentary.

Culture Clash: Thomas, Jones, King and Marsalis were all in their 70s and 80s when this documentary was filmed, and they talk about the challenges they’ve faced in their personal and professional lives.

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to fans of these artists, “Music Pictures: New Orleans” will appeal mostly to people who are fans of New Orleans music and documentaries that celebrate music artists who were influential to countless numbers of people.

“Music Pictures: New Orleans” is not a definitive or impactful documentary about the New Orleans music scene. However, it’s a pleasantly entertaining, early 2020s snapshot of four influential artists in blues and jazz. These four artists are Irma Thomas, Benny Jones Sr., Little Freddie King and Ellis Marsalis Jr., who all participated in the documentary, which was filmed from January 2020 to April 2021. Marsalis died from COVID-19-related pneumonia on April 1, 2020. He was 85.

Directed by Ben Chace, “Music Picture: New Orleans” (which clocks in at a brisk 72 minutes for its total running time) has a straightforward format of giving each artist profile a separate chapter. “Part 1: The Soul Queen” spotlights blues singer Thomas. “Part 2: The Heartbeat of the Band” focuses on jazz musician Jones, the leader and snare drummer of the Treme Brass Band. “Part 3: Last King of the Blues” centers on blues singer/guitarist King. “Part 4: Modern Men” showcases jazz icon Marsalis. All of these artists have been vital to the New Orleans music scene and influential in their own ways to many people around the world.

“Music Pictures: New Orleans” (which had its world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City) has some archival photos and archival footage of these artists, but the vast majority of the screen time consists of just documenting these four artists’ lives as music performers during the time that the documentary was filmed. Expect to see footage of them in recording studios or on stage, but don’t expect a lot of insight into their personal lives that hasn’t already been covered elsewhere. The movie is an easy watch, but it’s not particularly revealing.

Thomas (born in 1941) is shown recording songs for an album that has not yet been released, as of this writing. This album will be her first album of new recordings since 2008’s “Simply Grand.” Her “Full Time Woman – The Lost Cotillion Album” (released in 2014) was an album that she originally recorded in the early 1970s.

One of the songs she sings in the recording studio is “Don’t Go to Strangers,” which was the title track to Etta James’ 1960 album. Conga player Alfred “Uganda” Roberts and pianist Kyle Roussel are two of the musicians in the recording studio with her. Thomas is confident and relaxed in the studio, but she does say out loud that she’s very aware that this will be the first album she’s making in several years.

Thomas talks a little but about how she got started in the music business. When she was a teenage waitress, she got fired for singing on the job. Her boss was also a racist because he told her that he didn’t like her singing music from black people, and he used the “n” word racial slur. Thomas went from being fired from that waitress job to becoming a professional singer. Her first single, “Don’t Mess With My Man,” released in 1959, was a hit on the R&B charts.

She opens up about a few low points in her career, including being ripped off by a manager, whom she parted ways with in the 1970s. Her next manager was Emile Jackson, who also became her third husband. The couple got married in 1976. She jokes about her partnership with Jackson: “I found it cheaper to keep him. And I don’t want to train another one.”

Jackson is briefly interviewed in the documentary. He remembers the first time he met Thomas: “I didn’t know who she was.” At the time, Thomas had split from her unscrupulous manager and wasn’t actively looking for another manager. However, she says in the documentary that she told Jackson: “You can be my manager. And what you don’t know, we can learn together. And that’s the way it’s been ever since.”

The documentary’s segment on Jones (who was born in 1943) is perhaps the least interesting of the four, mainly because he doesn’t give much insight into himself and his career. Jones’ part of the documentary mainly shows him performing with his band. While playing music in a small nightclub, Jones says generic things, such as: “When I see people dancing, and I see a smile on their face, that makes my work much easier.”

King (born in 1940) has the liveliest personality out of the four artists. He’s quite the raconteur, as he tells stories about his life. He talks about how he was shot by his wife Amy (before they were married) with a .357 Magnum that he kept hidden in his garden. Despite this shooting incident, he married her anyway.

King’s segment also shows him performing at a nightclub and in the recording studio. Songs he performs include “Bad News,” “Mean Little Woman” and “Pocketful of Money.” Some of King’s associates are also interviewed, such as drummer/manager “Wacko” Wade Wright and harmonica player Bobby Lewis. Not surprisingly, they praise King for his talented musicianship and his resilience during tough times.

Although he is originally from Mississippi, King considers New Orleans to be his true home. As far as King is concerned, he thinks the most authentic blues artists are those who’ve experienced real struggles. King comments in the documentary: “The young don’t know what the blues is, because they didn’t live the blues, and they didn’t go through hard tribulations and hard times.”

This comment is a little dismissive of the fact that people of any age can go through hardships. Maybe he meant that young people in America didn’t have to grow up in an era when racial segregation was legal and enforced. It’s why this documentary probably needed an interviewer asking more probing questions. Some of of King’s commentary tends to ramble, so the documentary needed better editing for this segment.

Knowing that he has passed away, viewers will probably be the most moved by the documentary’s segment on Ellis Marsalis Jr., who is shown recording music with his son Jason Marsalis. (Ellis is on piano, while Jason is on xylophone.) Some of these recording sessions ended up on Ellis’ final studio album, “Discipline Meets the Family,” which was released in 2021. Jason’s daughter Marley (who was 15 at the time), who played piano on the album, is also in the documentary during these studio sessions. She is not interviewed and doesn’t say much.

The documentary also has footage of Ellis as a guest performer during a show that Jason headlined at the Snug Harbor nightclub in New Orleans. In a voiceover, Jason says of the footage in the documentary, “What I didn’t know at the time was that was going to be his last session and one of the last times we would play together.” Jason adds that he’s grateful these moments were recorded and that he collaborated with his father for Ellis’ last album.

The Marsalis family is the most famous jazz family from New Orleans. Ellis’ musician children (who are all sons) are Wynton, Branford, Delfeayo, Jason, Ellis III and Mboya Kenyatta. In the documentary, Ellis Jr. makes this admission, which might surprise some people: “I never wanted a family band.” It’s one of the reasons why Ellis Jr. would perform with most of his sons on special occasions, such as Jazz Fest, but not do albums and tours with the entire family.

If Ellis Jr. did collaborate with any of his sons in the recording studio, it was with one or a few of the sons at a time. Ellis Jr. says Wynton (the most famous Marsalis family member): “For me, to be in Wynton’s band is to date it, because what I learned is much earlier, and Wynton is still in a state of evolution.” Ellis Jr. offers this observation of Jason: “From [his] very, very young years, there were very few things that he heard that he didn’t have an appreciation for.”

Watching three generations of the Marsalis family in the recording studio is an undoubtable highlight of “Music Pictures: New Orleans.” And the movie certainly does touch on some of the struggles that these musicians faced in their lives. What’s missing from this very male-dominated documentary is any acknowledgement or exploration of how sexism affected who got the most and the best opportunities in the music industry when these artists were in their heyday. The fact that Thomas is the only woman interviewed in the documentary is a clear example of how women are often overlooked and sidelined as important parts of the music industry.

As for how the New Orleans music scene has changed over the years, the documentary includes some commentary about it, but none of it is particuarly new or revealing. The artists who comment on changes in New Orleans mainly mention Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the New Orleans area in 2005. Thomas says Hurricane Katrina “changed everybody.”

Jones also comments on the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans real estate market: “After Katrina, people with money were buying property” and charging rent that was “sky-high.” And so, many of the people who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina who “want to come back can’t afford it, probably.”

According to Jones, the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans is still recovering from an exodus of artistic people who relocated because of Hurricane Katrina. He comments, “The music is back, but delivered in a different way, in a different neighborhood.”

“Music Pictures: New Orleans” keeps the focus solidly on these artists, but the documentary could have used some perspectives from other people besides a few of the artists’ family members or employee associates. “Music Pictures: New Orleans” will delight fans of these artists, but casual music fans might not think this movie is essential viewing. As far as documentaries about New Orleans music artists go, “Music Picture: New Orleans” is like a select buffet that’s satisfactory, but it’s not a full-course feast that people will be raving about for days.

Review: ‘Woman on the Roof,’ starring Dorota Pomykała

June 27, 2022

by Carla Hay

Dorota Pomykała (pictured at far right) in “Woman on the Roof” (Photo by Ita Zbroniec-Zajt)

“Woman on the Roof”

Directed by Anna Jadowska

Polish with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place 2021, in an unnamed city in Poland, dramatic film “Woman on the Roof” features an all-white cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A 60-year-old woman’s financial problems and depression lead her to commit a desperate crime that sends her life on a further downward spiral. 

Culture Audience: “Woman on the Roof” will appeal primarily to people interested in watching a raw and realistic dramas that depict how mental health can affect how people cope with problems.

Dorota Pomykała and Bogdan Koca in “Woman on the Roof” (Photo by Ita Zbroniec-Zajt)

“Woman on the Roof” shows in stark and unflinching ways what can happen when people with mental health issues can suffer even more from neglect and denial. Dorota Pomykała gives a haunting portrayal of someone trapped in an emotional quicksand of desperation. This drama is an effective portrait of how depression can be stifling and often misunderstood. “Woman on the Roof” had its world premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, where Pomykała won the prize for Best Performance in an International Narrative Feature.

Written and directed by Anna Jadowska, “Woman on the Roof” (which takes place in an unnamed city in Poland) shows right from the movie’s opening scene that 60-year-old Miosława “Mira” Napieralska (played by Pomykała) is very troubled. After doing some laundry, Mira is seen going up to the roof of her apartment building. She then goes to the edge of the roof, as the camera shows a close-up of her feet. It looks like she’s about to jump.

The movie then abruptly cuts away and begins showing what led up to this apparently suicidal moment. Most of “Woman on the Roof” consists of these flashback scenes to explain why Mira has felt so alone and desperate, she apparently wants to kill herself. The information is revealed in bits and pieces, like parts of a puzzle. Mira is very introverted and quiet, so many scenes in this movie have no dialogue when Mira is by herself. Whatever thoughts she’s having in these moments of solitude and isolation might only be indicated by her facial expressions or body language.

Mira’s living situation is an example of how someone can be with other people but still feel lonely. She lives in a three-bedroom apartment with her husband Julek Napieralska (played by Bogdan Koca), who calls her Mirka. Their adult son Mariusz Napieralska (played by Adam Bobik) lives with them. It’s never stated or shown what Mariusz does for a living or how long he’s been living with his parents. Mariusz is very mild-mannered and stays out of his parents’ marital problems.

Mira and Julek have a marriage where the passion has left the relationship long ago. It’s later mentioned that it was Mira’s idea for her and Julek to start sleeping in separate bedrooms for an untold number of years. Julek and Mira live like roommates who aren’t particularly interested in each other any more. Mira works as a midwife in a hospital maternity ward, but she doesn’t seem to have any passion for her work either. Mira is not close to any of her co-workers, and she has no friends.

On the afternoon of July 26, 2021, after buying some fish food at an aquarium store, Mira commits a crime that will take her down a very dark road of humiliation and shame. She walks into a small bank and nervously tells the bank teller Elwira Piatek (played by Dominika Biernat), who’s the only employee on duty, to give money to Mira because she’s robbing the bank. At first, Elwira thinks it’s a joke.

But when Mira pulls a kitchen knife out of her purse, Elwira says that she’s going to call the police. Elwira is so much in shock that this seemingly harmless-looking older woman is robbing the bank, she gives Mira multiple chances to change her mind before Elwira calls the police. Mira seems to be in a panic though and won’t put the knife away, so Elwira calls the police to report an armed robbery in progress.

When it starts to sink in to Mira that the police will be there at any moment, Mira quickly flees the scene of the crime and eventually gets on a crowded bus to hide. When she arrives at home, Mira acts as if nothing happened. She keeps this secret to herself. But it won’t be a secret for long, because a day or two later, two investigating cops show up unannounced at her apartment door when Mira, Julek and Mariusz are at home.

About two-thirds of the movie is about the aftermath of this police visit. As time goes on, it’s obvious that the crime that Mira committed is a sympton of her larger problem of being depressed. However, people around her misunderstand that depression is Mira’s core issue, and they only want to focus on the crime that she committed as Mira’s biggest problem. It turns out that Mira is in debt for 100,000 złotsys, which is about $22,597 in early 2020s U.S. dollars. But even if Mira had the money to pay back the debt, it wouldn’t erase her struggles with depression.

One of the more interesting aspects of “Woman on the Roof” is that even though it’s a film about a very dark subject, the movie’s cinematography (by Ita Zbroniec-Zajt) is awash in bright light, even indoors. At times, the lighting gives the appearance that’s similar to film photography that looks close to being overexposed. In addition, most of the people in this movie wear very light-colored clothing. For example, Mira wears a lot of white and light blue outfits.

Viewers can interpret these filmmaker creative choices in many ways. However, it seems to be writer/director Jadowska’s way of showing how even during this bright and sunny summer and even when Mira wears light-colored clothes, Mira’s problems are like a dark cloud that she can’t escape when her life starts to fall apart. She’s so down and depressed, viewers will feel the weight of it, even on a sunlit and clear day that might lighten someone else’s mood, but won’t lift Mira out of her emotional rut.

In a compelling way, “Woman on the Roof” also points out then even when someone gets therapy for a mental illness, it might not be enough if it’s the wrong type of therapy, or if the therapy ends too soon. “Woman on the Roof” is definitely not the movie to watch if you’re looking for upbeat entertainment with a guaranteed happy ending. But if you want to see a well-acted movie that shows a richly layered interior life of a woman who’s teetering on the edge of suicidal thoughts, then “Woman on the Roof” might provide better understanding and some compassion for people who are going through similar struggles.

True Crime Entertainment: What’s New This Week

The following content is generally available worldwide, except where otherwise noted. All TV shows listed are for networks and streaming services based in the United States. All movies listed are those released in U.S. cinemas. This schedule is for content and events premiering this week and does not include content that has already been made available.

June 27 – July 3, 2022

TV/Streaming Services

All times listed are Eastern Time/Pacific Time, unless otherwise noted.

Starz’s three-episode limited docuseries “Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?” premieres its second episode on Sunday, July 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. 

Monday, June 27

“People Magazine Investigates”
“Valley of Death” (Episode 604)
Monday, June 27, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“#TextMeWhenYouGetHome”
“Beverly Carter” (Episode 104)
Monday, June 27, 9 p.m., Lifetime

“Fatal Attraction”
“Point of No Return” (Episode 1223)
Monday, June 27, 9 p.m., TV One

“Fear Thy Neighbor”
“The Next Door War” (Episode 803)
Monday, June 27, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Payback”
“A Daughter’s Duty” (Episode 104)
Monday, June 27, 10 p.m., TV One

“Mind Over Murder”
(Episode 102)
Monday, June 27, 10 p.m., HBO

“Sleeping With a Killer”
“Melanie Eam” (Episode 104)
Monday, June 27, 10 p.m., Lifetime

Tuesday, June 28

“Dateline: The Last Day”
(Episode 105)
Tuesday, June 28, 3 a.m. ET/12 a.m. PT, Peacock

“Dateline”
“A Novel Defense”
Tuesday, June 28, 8 p.m., Oxygen

“Body Cam”
“In the Shadows” (Episode 509) 
Tuesday, June 28, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Body Cam: On the Scene”
“Collision Course” (Episode 117) ** Season Finale**
Tuesday, June 28, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Wednesday, June 29

“Dateline”
“One Small Death”
Wednesday, June 29, 8 p.m., Oxygen

“See No Evil”
“Rideshare Nightmare” (Episode 819)
Wednesday, June 29, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“See No Evil”
“Smoke Shop Fugitive” (Episode 820)
Wednesday, June 29, 10 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Thursday, June 30

“Catching a Killer”
Episode 5
Thursday, June 30, 3 a.m. ET, Topic

“Crimes Gone Viral”
“Fiery Attacks” (Episode 217)
Thursday, June 30, 9 p.m., Investigation Discovery

Friday, July 1

“Cops”
TBA
Friday, July 1, 6 p.m., Fox Nation

“Cops: All Access”
TBA
Friday, July 1, 6 p.m., Fox Nation

“Dateline”
TBA
Friday, July 1, 10 p.m., NBC

Saturday, July 2

“First Blood”
“Robert Hansen: The Butcher Baker” (Episode 104)
Saturday, July 2, 8 p.m., A&E

“Murdered by Morning”
“Lying Wait” (Episode 209)
Saturday, July 2, 8 p.m., Oxygen

Sunday, July 3

“American Monster”
“Broken Heart in Broken Arrow” (Episode 716)
Sunday, July 3, 8 p.m., Investigation Discovery

“Someone They Knew…With Tamron Hall”
(Episode 118)
Sunday, July 3, 9 p.m., Court TV

“Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?”
“In Plain Sight”(Episode 102)
Sunday, July 3, 9 p.m., Starz

Radio/Podcasts

No new true crime podcast series premiering this week.

Events

Events listed here are not considered endorsements by this website. All ticket buyers with questions or concerns about the event should contact the event promoter or ticket seller directly.

All start times listed are local time, unless otherwise noted..

No new true crime events this week.

2022 BET Awards: Silk Sonic, Jazmine Sullivan, Kirk Franklin, Tems are the top winners

January 26, 2022

D’Mile and Bruno Mars at 2022 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on June 26, 2022. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for BET)

The following is a press release from BET:

BET honored Black excellence in music, television, film, and sports across more than 20 categories at the “BET Awards” 2022. Hosted by Academy Award®-nominated and Golden Globe®-winning actor, writer, director, producer, and philanthropist Taraji P. Henson, the iconic show aired live at 8 pm ET/ PT on BET live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on June 26, 2022. Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak), Jazmine Sullivan, Kirk Franklin and Tems take top honors. An array of artists delivered unforgettable and sensational surprise performances, including Latto with Mariah Carey, Jack Harlow with Brandy, and  Lil Wayne. Many artists also spoke out about the repeal of Roe v Wade and gun control. The night also included a star-studded tribute to Sean “Diddy” Combs who was honored with the BET Lifetime Achievement Award, making  the show once again the #1 trending topic on Twitter. 

The “BET Awards” 2022 celebrated the very best in entertainment and culture with performances and appearances by an inspiring lineup of artists, entertainers and cultural icons. The “BET Awards,” which has become synonymous with powerful Black artistry and social commentary, continued to spotlight and celebrate the artists and creators of tomorrow, making the ceremony one of the most news-provoking and talked-about broadcasts year after year.

The “BET AWARDS” 2022 Show Highlights Include:

  • Lizzo opened the show with a stunning high-energy performance of “About Damn Time” from her forthcoming album Special. 
  • Best New Artist winner Latto delivered show-stopping performances of “It’s Givin” and “Big Energy Remix,” with a dazzling appearance by Mariah Carey singing “Sweet Fantasy.” 
  • Jack Harlow, DJ Drama and Lil Wayne hit the stage to perform their hit “Poison”– and later shocked the crowd with a surprise appearance by Brandy to perform her “First Class” freestyle.
  • Kirk Franklin and Maverick City Music took the stage for an uplifting gospel performance of “Kingdom” and “Melodies From Heaven.” Later in the evening, Lil Baby and Kirk Franklin won this year’s Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award. During his acceptance speech, Kirk Franklin graced the award and passed the baton to collaborator Maverick City Music as the “next generation of gospel music.”
  • Billy Porter brought ballroom dance culture to the main stage with a spirited dance performance featuring Dominique Jackson, Shaun Ross, Chacha Balenciaga, Shannon Balenciaga and more. 
  • Chance the Rapper shared the stage with Joey Bada$$ for their debut performance of “The Highs & The Lows.” 
  • Muni Long serenaded the crowd with soulful performances of “Time Machine” and “Hrs & Hrs.”
  • Doechii delivered a “wig-snatching” performance of her hits “Persuasive” and “Crazy.” 
  • Fireboy DML graced the “BET Awards” stage with the very first live Afrobeats performance of “Peru.” 
  • Ella Mai was joined by Babyface and Roddy Ricch for unforgettable performances of “DMFU,” “Keeps on Fallin,’” and “How.”
  • Luke Lawal Jr. was honored with the ‘Shine a Light Award’ sponsored by Walmart for his selfless efforts to give back to his community through his many ventures, including HBCU Buzz.
  • Diddy was honored with this year’s Lifetime Achievement BET Award, in recognition of his prolific career over the past three decades, in which he remained one of the most successful entrepreneurs and cultural icons of all time. Following a nostalgia-filled tribute from Jodeci, performing “Come & Talk to Me,” and Mary J. Blige, performing “I’m Going Down” he performed a medley of Bad Boy Records hits with an all-star line-up including Shyne, Lil Kim, Bryson Tiller, Faith Evans and Maverick City Music. After being introduced by Babyface and Kanye West, Diddy received a standing ovation as he accepted the well-deserved award. In his speech, Diddy announced he will be donating $1 million to Howard University, and an additional $1 million to Deion Sanders and Jackson State University.
  • Marsai Martin was awarded the Youngstar Award, given to those who have made an impact in the world of television, film, music, or sports. This was Martin’s third win in the category. 
  • Chlöe delivered a sultry performance of her hits, including “Surprise,” “Have Mercy” and Treat Me.” 
  • GIVĒON closed out the performances for the night with a crooning of “Heartbreak Anniversary,” “For Tonight” and “Lie Again.” 
  • During the award show’s ‘In Memoriam,’ host Taraji P. Henson and the “BET Awards” took a moment to honor the countless lives lost due to senseless gun violence. The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade was an important topic of conversation throughout the night, with voices like Taraji, Latto and the cast of Tyler Perry’s Sistas encouraging the audience to fight for their freedoms and to get out and vote.

Connie Orlando, BET’s Executive Vice President, Specials, Music Programming, Music Strategy, and News oversaw the annual show, along with Jamal Noisette, VP, Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy, who will serve as Co-Executive Producer for BET. Jesse Collins Entertainment is the production company for the show with Jesse Collins, Dionne Harmon, and Jeannae Rouzan-Clay serving as Executive Producers.

The “BET Awards” 2022 was simulcast live on BET, BET Her, Comedy Central, Logo, MTV, MTV2, Pop, TV Land, and VH1. Internationally, the show simulcast on BET Africa, BET France and will be available to watch on My5 and Sky On-Demand in the UK, as well as BET Pluto in the UK and Brazil. 

Relive the “BET AWARDS” 2022 digital red carpet via the live stream powered by Bulldog DM, available now at https://twitter.com/betawards.

For more information on the “BET Awards” 2022, please visit BET.com/bet-awards.

The complete list of nominees and winners for the “BET AWARDS” 2022 are:

*=winner

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist     

  • ARI LENNOX
  • CHLÖE
  • DOJA CAT
  • H.E.R.
  • JAZMINE SULLIVAN*
  • MARY J. BLIGE
  • SUMMER WALKER

Best Male R&B/Pop Artist

  • BLXST
  • CHRIS BROWN
  • GIVĒON
  • LUCKY DAYE
  • THE WEEKND*
  • WIZKID
  • BLEU

Best Group

  • SILK SONIC*
  • CHLÖE X HALLE
  • CITY GIRLS
  • LIL BABY & LIL DURK
  • MIGOS
  • YOUNG DOLPH & KEY GLOCK

Best Collaboration

  • ESSENCE                                                        WIZKID FEAT. JUSTIN BIEBER & TEMS*
  • EVERY CHANCE I GET                            DJ KHALED FEAT. LIL BABY & LIL DURK
  • FAMILY TIES                                                 BABY KEEM & KENDRICK LAMAR
  • KISS ME MORE                                            DOJA CAT FEAT. SZA
  • WAY 2 SEXY                                                  DRAKE FEAT. FUTURE & YOUNG THUG
  • WHOLE LOTTA MONEY (REMIX)       BIA FEAT. NICKI MINAJ

Best Female Hip Hop Artist

  • CARDI B
  • DOJA CAT
  • LATTO
  • MEGAN THEE STALLION*
  • NICKI MINAJ
  • SAWEETIE

Best Male Hip Hop Artist

  • DRAKE
  • FUTURE
  • J. COLE
  • JACK HARLOW
  • KANYE WEST
  • KENDRICK LAMAR*
  • LIL BABY

Video of the Year

  • FAMILY TIES                                                                BABY KEEM & KENDRICK LAMAR*
  • HAVE MERCY                                                              CHLÖE
  • KISS ME MORE                                                           DOJA CAT FEAT. SZA
  • PRESSURE                                                                   ARI LENNOX
  • SMOKIN OUT THE WINDOW                              BRUNO MARS, ANDERSON .PAAK, SILK SONIC
  • WAY 2 SEXY                                                                 DRAKE FEAT. FUTURE & YOUNG THUG

Video Director of the Year

  • ANDERSON .PAAK A.K.A. DIRECTOR .PAAK*
  • BENNY BOOM
  • BEYONCÉ & DIKAYL RIMMASCH
  • DIRECTOR X
  • HYPE WILLIAMS
  • MISSY ELLIOTT

Best New Artist

  • BABY KEEM
  • BENNY THE BUTCHER
  • LATTO*
  • MUNI LONG
  • TEMS
  • BLEU

Album of the Year

  • AN EVENING WITH SILK SONIC                     SILK SONIC*
  • BACK OF MY MIND                                                  H.E.R.
  • CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST                                TYLER, THE CREATOR
  • CERTIFIED LOVER BOY                                         DRAKE
  • DONDA                                                                        KANYE WEST
  • HEAUX TALES, MO’ TALES: THE DELUXE   JAZMINE SULLIVAN
  • PLANET HER                                                               DOJA CAT

Dr. Bobby Jones Best Gospel/Inspirational Award

  • ALL IN YOUR HANDS                                          MARVIN SAPP
  • COME TO LIFE                                                         KANYE WEST
  • GRACE                                                                         KELLY PRICE
  • HALLELUJAH                                                           FRED HAMMOND
  • HOLD US TOGETHER (HOPE MIX)               H.E.R. & TAUREN WELLS
  • JIREH                                                                            ELEVATION WORSHIP & MAVERICK CITY MUSIC
  • WE WIN                                                                      LIL BABY X KIRK FRANKLIN*

BET Her

  • BEST OF ME (ORIGINALS)                                   ALICIA KEYS
  • GOOD MORNING GORGEOUS                           MARY J. BLIGE*
  • HAVE MERCY                                                              CHLÖE
  • PRESSURE                                                                   ARI LENNOX
  • ROSTER                                                                        JAZMINE SULLIVAN
  • UNLOYAL                                                                     SUMMER WALKER & ARI LENNOX
  • WOMAN                                                                      DOJA CAT

Best International Act

  • DAVE (UK)
  • DINOS (FRANCE)
  • FALLY IPUPA (DRC)
  • FIREBOY DML (NIGERIA)
  • LITTLE SIMZ (UK)
  • LUDMILLA (BRAZIL)
  • MAJOR LEAGUE DJZ (SOUTH AFRICA)
  • TAYC (FRANCE)
  • TEMS (NIGERIA)*

Best Movie

  • CANDYMAN
  • KING RICHARD*
  • RESPECT
  • SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY
  • SUMMER OF SOUL
  • THE HARDER THEY FALL

Best Actor

  • ADRIAN HOLMES                                                        BEL AIR
  • ANTHONY ANDERSON                                            BLACK-ISH
  • DAMSON IDRIS                                                           SNOWFALL
  • DENZEL WASHINGTON                                           THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
  • FOREST WHITAKER                                                   RESPECT | GODFATHER OF HARLEM
  • JABARI BANKS                                                             BEL AIR
  • STERLING K. BROWN                                               THIS IS US
  • WILL SMITH                                                                 KING RICHARD*

Best Actress

  • AUNJANUE ELLIS                                                       KING RICHARD
  • COCO JONES                                                               BEL AIR
  • ISSA RAE                                                                       INSECURE
  • JENNIFER HUDSON                                                   RESPECT
  • MARY J. BLIGE                                                             POWER BOOK II: GHOST
  • QUEEN LATIFAH                                                         THE EQUALIZER
  • QUINTA BRUNSON                                                    ABBOTT ELEMENTARY
  • REGINA KING                                                               THE HARDER THEY FALL
  • ZENDAYA                                                                     EUPHORIA | SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME*

YoungStars Award

  • AKIRA AKBAR
  • DEMI SINGLETON
  • MARSAI MARTIN*
  • MILES BROWN
  • SANIYYA SIDNEY

Sportswoman of the Year Award

  • BRITTNEY GRINER
  • CANDACE PARKER
  • NAOMI OSAKA*
  • SERENA WILLIAMS
  • SHA’CARRI RICHARDSON
  • SIMONE BILES

Sportsman of the Year Award

  • AARON DONALD
  • BUBBA WALLACE
  • GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO
  • JA MORANT
  • LEBRON JAMES
  • STEPHEN CURRY*

ABOUT BET:

BET, a unit of Paramount (NASDAQ: PARAA; PARA; PARAP), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African American audience. The primary BET channel is in 125 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET+, the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience; BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, a growing BET festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

ABOUT “BET AWARDS”

“BET Awards” is one of the most-watched award shows on cable television according to the Nielsen Company. The “BET Awards” franchise remains the #1 program in cable TV history among African-Americans, and it is the #1 telecast for BET every year. It recognizes the triumphs and successes of artists, entertainers, and athletes in a variety of categories.

ABOUT JESSE COLLINS ENTERTAINMENT

Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full-service television and film production company and has played an integral role in producing many of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment. JCE has a multi-year overall agreement with ViacomCBS Cable Networks.  On the theatrical film side, the company also has a first look on JCE’s film development projects which could include Viacom’s film entities such as Paramount Players.  The award-winning and critically acclaimed television that JCE has produced includes miniseries—The New Edition Story and The Bobby Brown Story; scripted series—American Soul and Real Husbands of Hollywood; children’s series—Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices; award shows—BET Awards, Black Girls Rock!, BET Honors, UNCF’s An Evening of Stars, BET Hip Hop Awards, ABFF Honors and Soul Train Awards; specials—John Lewis: Celebrating A Hero, Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration, Change Together: From The March On Washington To Today, Stand Up for Heroes, Dear Mama, Amanda Seales I Be Knowin’, Def Comedy Jam 25 and Leslie Jones: Time Machine; as well as competition/game shows—Sunday Best, Hip Hop Squares, Nashville Squares and Rhythm & Flow.  Jesse Collins, founder and CEO of the company, is the executive producer of all programming.  He is also a co-executive producer for the iconic GRAMMY® Awards.  Most recently, he was executive producer of The 2021 Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show and produced The 2021 Academy Awards®.  Go to jessecollinsent.com for more information on the company.

Review: ‘Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko,’ starring the voices of Shinobu Ôtake and Cocomi

June 25, 2022

by Carla Hay

Kikuko (voiced by Cocomi) and Nikuko (voiced by Shinobu Ôtake) in “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” (Image courtesy of GKIDS)

“Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko”

Directed by Ayumu Watanabe

Japanese with subtitles

Culture Representation: The Japanese animated film “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko,” which takes place primarily in an unnamed village in Japan, tells the story of an unlucky-in-love single mother named Nikuko and her teenage daughter Kikuko, with a cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: Kikuko is somewhat of an outsider at her school, where she pines over a boy she has a crush on, she longs to be accepted by a clique of popular girls, and she is often embarrassed by her mother’s goofy and larger-than-life personality.

Culture Audience: “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in anime films about family love and the true meaning friendship.

Nikuko (voiced by Shinobu Ôtake) in “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” (Image courtesy of GKIDS)

“Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” tells a moderately entertaining story about an eccentric single mother and her teenage daughter, who is the story’s narrator. This comedy/drama anime film isn’t great though. It has some problematic mocking of the title character’s large body. The movie’s title is a little misleading because Nikuko (the mother character, voiced by Shinobu Ôtake) isn’t in the film as much as you might think a title character would be. The story is really about Nikuko’s daughter Kikuko (voiced by Cocomi), who is Nikuko’s only child. The movie spends a lot of time on Kikuko’s social interactions with Kikuko’s peers.

Directed by Ayumu Watanabe, “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” is based on Kanako Nishi’s 2014 novel of the same name. The novel was also made into a manga series. Satomi Ohshima wrote the “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” movie screenplay. The movie’s animation and performances from the voice actors are perfectly fine. The screenplay is where “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” falters the most.

The beginning of “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” has a montage, with voiceover narration from Kikuko (who’s about 14 or 15 years old), explaining some of Nikuko’s background. Nikuko has a pattern of choosing love partners who are liars, cheaters and con men. These loser boyfriends break Nikuko’s heart and often drain her of her money.

Every time Nikuko has one of these bad breakups, she then moves to another city in Japan, as if she wants to start a new life and try to put her heartbreak behind her. It’s mentioned that Nikuko grew up in an unnamed small town. She moved to Osaka at age 16, and then Nagoya at age 27, and then Yokohana at age 30, and then Tokyo at age 33. And now, at age 35, Nikuko has moved with Kikuko (whom she calls Kukurin as a nickname) to an unnamed small city in Japan.

Nikuko and Kikuko live on a small fishing houseboat owned by Nikuko’s friendly boss Sassan (played by Ikuji Nakamura), who also owns a restaurant/bar called Uwogashi Grill House. Nikuko, who works as a server at Uwogashi Grill House, has had working-class jobs all of her life. She was working at another bar where she met one of her swindler ex-boyfriends. Nikuko doesn’t like to discuss who Kikuko’s father is, so Kikuko has gone through life not knowing anything about her father.

All of Nikuko’s relocations and romantic disappointments have left her “tired,” according to Kikuko. Despite being unlucky in love and experiencing a lot of betrayal, Nikuko has a jolly and exuberant personality. She’s very friendly to strangers, but she doesn’t have many friends. It’s an indication that underneath her extroverted persona, Nikuko is hiding a lot of loneliness and emotional pain.

However, Nikuko gets her greatest joy from being a mother. Kikuko and Nikuko love each other very much, but Kikuko is in that teenage stage of life where Kikuko wants more independence. Nikuko has her share of quirks. As Kikuko explains in the movie’s introduction, Nikuko likes to make puns about numbers and kanji. Nikuko also has an almost juvenile outlook on life, because she likes to make childlike jokes with people. By contrast, Kikuko is serious-minded and introverted.

Nikuko is also the type of person who’s impossible not to notice in a room, because she often talks loudly and can be clumsy. Nikuko also occasionally gets drunk in public. When she gets drunk, she becomes even louder and goofier. And when a parent acts this way, you know what that means for a child, especially if that child is a teenager: That parent is often an embarrassment to the child.

The beginning of “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” somewhat oddly lists Nikuko’s measurements, which seems redundant because people watching the movie can already see that she’s a large-sized woman, in terms of her weight proportion to her body. But for anyone who cares, Nikuko’s measurements are listed as being 151 centimeters tall (which is nearly 5 feet tall) and weighing 67.4 kilograms (or about 148 pounds). One of the movie’s flaws is that it seems fixated on Nikuko’s body size as a way to explain why Nikuko is a social misfit.

It’s not really body shaming, but several times throughout the movie, Nikuko’s body size and eating habits are used for slapstick jokes. She often falls down or gets into physically uncomfortable predicaments because of her weight. There are also multiple scenes of Nikuko devouring large quantities of food, because the filmmakers obviously intended viewers to laugh at Nikuko when she eats.

The movie also has some unnecessary and tacky scenes of Nikuko farting or burping. No one watching this movie needs to know how Nikuko’s digestive system is processing gas, but there it is in unavoidable scenes in “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko.” The movie also hints that Nikuko might have sleep apnea, based on the way she loudly snores and seems to have some difficulty breathing when she sleeps. Any health issues that Nikuko might have are treated as jokes—and this mockery is the movie’s biggest failing.

Nikuko’s physicality is used as the movie’s “comic relief,” but it’s not the movie’s main story. Most of “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” is about Kikuko’s angst over her social situation at her school. This not-very-original teen storyline has Kikuko wanting to be liked by a clique of popular girls, led by a snob named Mori.

Kikuko has a schoolmate named Maria (voiced by Izumi Ishii), who was Kikuko’s closest friend at school. However, Maria has been shunned by Mori and her clique, just because they think Maria isn’t cool enough to hang out with them. Because Kikuko wants to be accepted by Mori’s clique, Kikuko has recently been snubbing Maria too. Kikuko says in a voiceover about her social life at school: “When I transferred here, Maria was the first one to talk to me.” And now, Kikuko says she doubts that Maria will ever talk to her again.

Kikuko, who has a tomboyish appearance, is also insecure about how she looks. She has a secret crush on a schoolmate named Ninomiya (voiced by Natsuki Hanae), who is somewhat of a loner and has a reputation for being a little rebellious. Ninomiya, a shaggy-haired teen who has long bangs that almost cover his eyes, seems to know what Kikuko has a crush on him because he notices that she often stares at him.

One day at school, when Ninomiya and Kikuko are talking with each other, he praises Maria for “dressing like a princess and looking feminine.” This comment makes Kikuko jealous, so she tells Ninomiya that Maria had a plan to be the center of attention, and it backfired. Kikuko tells Ninomiya it’s the reason why Mori’s clique has made Maria an outcast.

It’s a catty side to Kikuko that makes her look small-minded and petty. When Ninomiya points out that Maria and Kikuko used to be close friends, Kikuko has to come to terms with how she also played a role in enabling bullying and making Maria feel excluded. The movie shows how Kikuko then handles this reckoning.

Meanwhile, the movie continues with scenarios that show Kikuko being embarrassed by Nikuko. They take a mother-daughter trip to an aquarium. You can easily predict what happens when Nikuko encounters a wet floor.

And then, there’s a School Sports Day at Kikuko’s school, where students and their parents compete against each other in athletic competitions. You can also easily guess what that means for Nikuko and Kikuko. Ninomiya will be watching whatever ends up happening, which adds to Kikuko’s anxiety about this event.

“Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” has a lot of slapstick comedy, but the movie takes a sharp turn into serious drama when a secret is revealed in the last third of the film. It’s here where “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” somewhat redeems itself in how it portrays Nikuko, who no longer becomes a caricature in this part of the movie. How this secret is revealed puts Nikuko in a different context than just embarrassing herself and Kikuko in a buffoonish way.

The reveal of this secret is meant to add more depth to the story, but it comes so late in the movie, some viewers might perceive it as a manipulative plot twist. Other viewers might be emotionally moved by this secret, while some viewers might even shed some tears over it. After the secret is revealed, it brings up some questions that the movie never answers. Even with all of its shortcomings, “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” has a meaningful message about family love and true friendships, but viewers have to watch a lot of the movie’s cliché-driven scenarios before it finally gets to this message.

GKIDS released “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” in select U.S. cinemas on June 3, 2022, with a sneak preview on June 2, 2022. The movie is set for release on digital, VOD, Blu-ray and DVD on July 19, 2022. “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” was originally released in Japan in 2021.

Review: ‘Beba,’ starring Rebeca Huntt

June 24, 2022

by Carla Hay

Rebeca Huntt in “Beba” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

“Beba”

Directed by Rebeca Huntt

Culture Representation: The documentary “Beba” features a racially diverse group of people (African American, Latino and white) in director Rebeca Huntt’s autobiographical account of her life experiences as a young person.

Culture Clash: Huntt, who identifies as an Afro-Latina, talks about the prejudices she’s experienced in white-dominated environments, violence in her family, and her own personal flaws that have led to negativity in her life. 

Culture Audience: “Beba” will appeal primarily to people interested in a very personal and introspective documentary that tackles issues of race relations, social classes, domestic violence and self-identity.

Rebeca Huntt in “Beba” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

What does it say about a filmmaker when the first feature film directed by the filmmaker is essentially a documentary where the filmmaker talks about herself and her life? This choice and the end results often depend on who’s telling the story and how it’s told. In the case of “Beba” (the feature-film debut of director Rebeca Huntt), this unconventional autobiographical documentary comes close to being self-indulgent, but Huntt’s ability to point out her troubling personal flaws makes it a candid and fascinating story.

“Beba” had its world premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, and made the rounds at several other film festivals, including the 2022 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. “Beba” is a non-traditional documentary because the format has Huntt’s voiceover narration, with the movie’s visuals consisting mostly of photos and archival video footage from her life, with only a few interviews done specifically for the documentary. The only people interviewed are a few of Huntt’s family members and one of her former professors at Bard College.

“Beba” gets its title because it’s one of the nicknames that Huntt has had since her childhood. She says her other nicknames are Beca and Bebe. In the documentary, Huntt says that she was born in New York City on May 9, 1990. New York City is where she grew up with her parents (Juan and Veronica) and her two older siblings (Juan Carlos and Raquel).

According to Huntt, her working-class parents, who met each other in New York City in the 1970s, “sacrificed everything” so that the family could have the prestigious street address of Central Park West, where they lived in a small one-bedroom apartment that was rent-controlled. Rebeca says half-jokingly that she and her siblings were “the poorest kids on Central Park West.” Her parents had the choice to rent a larger apartment, but it was in a less-safe neighborhood where they didn’t want the family to live.

In one of the early scenes in “Beba,” she explains why she took a first-person narrative for this documentary: “You are now entering my universe. I am the lens, the subject, the authority. As the product of the new world, violence is in my DNA. I carry an ancient pain that I struggle to understand. I use it to hurt those closest to me.”

She continues, “Every one of us inherits the curses of our ancestors, but we may put an end to the cycle by constantly going to war with ourselves. I’m watching the curses of my family slowly kill us, so I’m going to war. And there will be casualties. This cannot be our legacy.”

Rebeca also describes herself as “brave, stubborn, narcissistic and chronically cruel. Existing is to hold space for all of this.” This narration takes place within the first five minutes of “Beba.” And at this point so early in the movie, viewers will either be turned off or intrigued to find out more about this filmmaker who’s doing an autobiography where she will reveal unflattering and messy things about her life.

Rebeca’s comment about “going to war” isn’t about political issues. It’s about personal issues and the conflicts she has with herself, her family and other people. She explains why her family history is intertwined with who she is.

Her father’s side of the family is black and has roots in the Dominican Republic. When her paternal grandfather told people he wanted move from the Dominican Republic to the United States, he was laughed at for this idea because he was “poor and black.” At this time, it was 1965, the year of the Dominican Civil War. Rebeca’s father Juan told her vivid memories of his experiences during this period of civil unrest. When people (especially men and boys) walked outside, they had to walk with their hands up, to show that they were unarmed.

Rebeca’s paternal grandfather wanted a better life for his family. And so, in 1966 or 1967, he brought his family of nine people to New York City, where they settled in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, which has a large percentage of residents who are African American or immigrants. Rebeca describes her paternal grandfather as “illiterate” who was just as likely to be seen carrying sugar cane as he would be likely to be seen carrying a belt to whip his kids to discipline them.

Later in the movie, she talks about how domestic violence seems be an inherited curse in her family. Rebeca comments on her father, “I know him better than anyone, yet I have no idea where my father’s mannerisms come from. When I’m angry, I remind him of his father.”

Her mother’s side of the family has roots in Venezuela. Rebeca says that her mother Veronica grew up in Venezuela and studied at Pace University in New York City to escape from Veronica’s “glamorous” mother who had schizophrenia. Veronica settled permanently in New York City after meeting and marrying Juan, and their children often spent summers in Venezuela.

Growing up with parents of two different races came with its share of identity issues. Rebeca says that when she was a child, she once got into a fight with a Jamaican boy who said that Rebeca was black, and Rebeca denied it, because her mother taught her to identify only as Latin. In a documentary interview, Rebeca’s mother Veronica admits, “I’m a Latin person, and I raised my kids as a Latin person, because I don’t know anything else. I don’t know about being an American, white or black.”

The documentary also hints that Veronica could have suffered from some mental illness, since it’s revealed that Veronica used to hit herself with a belt instead of disciplining her kids. Rebeca describes her father as the parent who would get violent with his kids when disciplining Rebeca and her siblings. Rebeca says multiple times in the documentary that this domestic violence is a family curse.

Rebeca also says that she and her siblings would sometimes get violent with each other and other members of the family. Rebeca describes how her older sister Raquel once took a machete from a closet and swung it at her parents. Raquel also “[handed] me my first [marijuana] joint at age 10, to apologize for choking me until I can’t breathe.” Later in the documentary, Rebeca describes an incident where Rebeca (as an adult) choked her own mother during a vicious argument.

And there are more family feuds and dysfunction detailed in the documentary. Rebeca says, “If I am Daddy’s girl, and Juan Carlos is Mama’s boy, my sister falls into a neglected dimension I don’t even try to understand.” Rebeca then goes on to describe that Raquel graduated from boarding school but skipped college to “hop trains with junkies.”

According to Rebeca, Raquel’s life experiences include “agoraphobia, disability checks, solitary confinement, destruction and pathological lies. Now, she has two daughters of her own who will inherit our curses.”

Rebeca’s older brother Juan Carlos is also described as troubled. She shares a story of how the family went to Disney World on her seventh birthday, and she got into an argument with Juan Carlos. It was the last time that their father spoke to Juan Carlos. For the documentary, Rebeca’s father Juan still refuses to talk about Juan Carlos.

Rebeca also says for a period of two years, she and Juan Carlos stopped talking to each other. And there were feuds that Rebeca had with her mother. She says that her mother called her a “snitch.” In response, Rebeca reveals what she did at the time: “I [made] sure to call her at work the next day to tell her that she’s garbage.”

These days, Rebeca says that she and Juan Carlos are on speaking terms. However, their conversations seem to be very superficial. Rebeca says, “Juan Carlos only talks to me when a new Jay-Z album is out.”

Toward the end of the documentary, Rebeca shares what she thinks she inherited from her family’s history. On her mother’s side, Rebeca thinks she inherited “passion, resilience and crippling delusion.” On her father’s side, Rebeca thinks she inherited “courage, ambition, abuse and rage.”

But at what point should people stop blaming their parents or ancestors and take responsibility for their own lives and their own actions? It’s an existential question that seems to be a major struggle for Rebeca. She seems to want to stop the cycle of domestic violence in her family. But in the documentary, she doesn’t really say what she’s doing about it. For example, she doesn’t mention if she’s chosen to seek help through therapy or other resources.

Rebeca describes her childhood summer vacations in Venezuela (where she stayed with her mother’s relatives) as being an oasis from all the chaos she experienced at home in America. These vacations inspired her to see more of the world when she was an adult. As she says in the documentary: “I backpacked the world in search of what Venezuela gave me: freedom, unconditional love and a room of my own.”

In another childhood story, Rebeca mentions a community garden in Manhattan where she and her sister Raquel would spend time as children, but the only other people she used to see there were white. When she was a child, she found crack vials in the garden and brought them to school for an art project. She didn’t know what the crack vials were, and she got in trouble for bringing this drug paraphernalia to school. It confused her at the time because she didn’t think she did anything wrong.

In another story about her childhood school experiences, Rebeca says that when she was in fifth grade, the students had a class assignment to come to school dressed as a hero. Rebeca chose Harriet Tubman and went to school in a Harriet Tubman costume, using makeup to “make fake whip marks and broccoli to recreate a plantation.” She also brought Ken dolls with her to represent slave masters, while she had Barbie dolls and Ken dolls depicted as enslaved people. Whatever “Beba” viewers make of this story, it seems to be Rebeca’s way of saying that she had a bit of an iconoclastic streak in her at an early age.

Throughout the movie, Rebeca discusses how her identity was shaped by growing up in a working-class family of color but spending most of her education and social life in environments with mostly white people from more privileged backgrounds. It goes without saying that people who have to navigate being in very different environments often have to present themselves in different ways in order to fit in whatever environment where they want acceptance. And it’s impossible to escape from racism, no matter where people go in life.

In high school, Rebeca says she began to discover herself and what she wanted to do with her life. She says that it was through Maya Angelou’s writings that she first found out that the Afro-Latin identity exists. Rebeca also remembers that in high school, “Shakespeare lights my brain on fire, and not even the bulletproof windows in my high school can contain it.”

The way that Rebeca talks about Shakespeare in that comment makes her sound pretentious, but at least she’s honest about her tendency to be pretentious. This truthful self-awareness will either make viewers want to keep watching “Beba” or want to stop watching it. For all of her admitted flaws, Rebeca seems willing to bare her life in ways where she will undoubtedly get criticism. Too often, directors who narrate documentaries about themselves aren’t willing to show the worst sides of themselves.

“Beba” also shows a perspective that isn’t seen too often in documentaries: What it’s like for an Afro-Latina from a working-class background to attend a mostly white university or college where many of the students come from affluent backgrounds. At Bard College, Rebeca was hanging out with children of millionaires.

The friends she met through Bard College included Rumer Willis (daughter of movie stars Bruce Willis and Demi Moore) and Lola Kirke (daughter of Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke), who had very different childhoods from the childhood that Rebeca experienced. “Beba” includes some footage of Rebeca, Rumer Willis and Lola Kirke hanging out somewhere outdoors and doing an acoustic performance of a song called “Cocaine Blues.”

Later in the movie, there’s a staged recreation of Rebeca and some of her unidentified white friends have a heated discussion about race and white supremacist racism. The two white men in the room seem to be the most uncomfortable when Rebeca talks about white privilege. She also makes this comment: “There is nothing honorable about trying to assimilate into a system that is designed to destroy you.” Rebeca might want to sound like Malcolm X, but there’s nothing in the movie that shows she’s an activist for civil rights. Talking is one thing. Doing is another.

Rebeca doesn’t spend a lot of the documentary’s screen time on her college friends, but she does interview a Bard College professor who made an impact on her because she was one of the few African American professors who was part of the Bard College faculty. In the movie, this professor is only identified by her first name (Annie), and she says she remembers advising Rebeca on how to conduct herself as a Bard student. Annie says that she told Rebeca that college wasn’t a utopia but a reflection of how the real world is, so she suggested to Rebeca to stop wearing belly shirts to class and start showing up on time. Later, Rebeca says that she decided to study for a semester in Ghana, in part to get more in touch with her African ancestry.

Rebeca also reveals some details about her love life. She says she lost her virginity at age 17 to an “asshole” who is not named in the movie. Later, when she was in her 20s, she had a volatile love affair with a bipolar man named Michael, who was around the same age and grew up in New York City’s Bronx borough.

In “Beba,” Rebeca bravely exposes a lot of her personal failings, emotions and struggles. Her narration is admirable for being unapologetic and not trying to be crowd-pleasing or contrived to make as many people like her as possible. What’s missing in the documentary is any clear sense of why she wanted to become a filmmaker.

Who or what inspired her the most in the cinematic arts? What types of movies does she want to make? What types of movies does she like to watch? Does she think she’ll be in it for the long haul, or is filmmaking something she’s dabbling in until something else comes along that interests her? These are questions that are never really answered in this documentary, which gives the impression that Rebeca wanted to do a lot of venting about her family rather than present a completely well-rounded self-portrait.

Perhaps at the time she made this documentary, Rebeca was still figuring out what she wants to do with her life. If she decides to do another autobiographical documentary, it will be interesting to see how much time has passed and how much she might have changed. If “Beba” is any indication, she has many more compelling things to say as a filmmaker and as a person.

Neon released “Beba” in select U.S. cinemas on June 24, 2022.

Review: ‘Samrat Prithviraj,’ starring Akshay Kumar

June 23, 2022

by Carla Hay

Akshay Kumar in “Samrat Prithviraj” (Photo courtesy of Yash Raj Films)

“Samrat Prithviraj”

Directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India and Afghanistan, between the years 1177 and 1192, the action film “Samrat Prithviraj” has a nearly all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and royalty.

Culture Clash: Prithviraj Chauhan has battles with rivals over his leadership power of Delhi.

Culture Audience: “Samrat Prithviraj” will appeal primarily to viewers who are looking for a biopic action film that relies heavily on shallow and violent clichés instead of being an accurate historical drama.

Akshay Kumar and Manushi Chhillar in “Samrat Prithviraj” (Photo courtesy of Yash Raj Films)

“Samrat Prithviraj” is an example of a biopic that’s a huge waste of time and money. This sorry spectacle amounts to nothing more than looking like a big-budget, mindlessly violent video game version of the story of real-life Indian historical figure Prithviraj Chauhan. The movie’s epic fight scenes in battlefields look very fake and hollow. And the human interactions that don’t involve fighting are also poorly contrived and acted. With a total running time of 135 minutes, this bloated and repetitive mess wears out its welcome very quickly and then drags on until its very predictable end.

Written and directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi, “Samrat Prithviraj” (which means “Emperor Prithviraj” in Hindi) is just a series of historically inaccurate scenes showing feuds over power and revenge. All of the cast members just look like they’re going through the motions with no authentic-looking feelings. In some parts of the movie, it really does just look like a video game. There could be CGI visual effects instead of real actors, and there wouldn’t be much difference in the performances.

The movie, which takes place in India and Afghanistan from 1177 to 1192, opens with an over-the-top unrealistic scene taking place in 1192 in Ghazni, Afghanistan. A stadium full of people will be witnessing the torture of a blind prisoner fighting off three lions that have been set loose in the stadium. That prisoner is exiled Indian leader Prithviraj Chauhan (played by Akshay Kumar), whose eyes are missing for reasons shown later in the movie. The scene is grossly unrealistic in how Prithviraj, who is armed with an axe and a spear, is able to kill all of the attacking lions. After he kills the lions, Prithviraj collapses from exhaustion.

“Samrat Prithviraj” (whose original title was “Prithviraj”) then shows flashbacks that depict what led Prithviraj to this far-fetched “battle with the lions” scene. The story goes back a few years before in India, where Prithviraj gets caught up in a power struggle over leadership of Delhi. It all starts when Prithviraj is ruling over Ajmer, and he is visiting the land of Kannauj. It’s where he meets and falls in love with a princess named Sanyogita (played by Manushi Chhillar), whose ruthless king father Jayachandra (played by Ashutosh Rana) does not approve of the relationship.

Meanwhile, back in Ajmer, Prithviraj offers asylum to a man named Mir Hossain (played by Anshuman Singh), who has come to Ajmer because he ran off with a woman named Chitralekha, who was the concubine of Hossain’s brother Muhammad Ghori (played by Manav Vij), the sultan of Ghor. Ghori dispatches an underling named Qutb al-Din Aibak (played by Sahidur Rahaman) to Ajmer, to send a message demanding that Prithviraj send Hossain back to Ghori, or else Ghori threatens to declare war against Prithviraj and the people of Ajmer.

Prithviraj refuses this demand. And you know what that means: Ghori and Prithviraj go to war. Soldiers from their respective lands getting caught in this power struggle, and often lose their lives as a result. One of the casualties is Mir Hossain. Prithviraj is victorious in this war. Ghori is captured, but is then foolishly released a few days later.

Prithviraj then becomes the ruler of Delhi, which he inherited when the previous ruler gave the leadership of Delhi to Prithviraj instead of a biological heir (his grandson), who becomes yet another person to hold a grudge against Prithviraj. With Prithviraj now the ruler of Delhi, this rise to power does not sit well with Jayachandra, who does not want his daughter Sanyogita to marry Prithviraj.

Sanyogita and Prithviraj get married anyway. As the saying goes: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” And so, this marriage leads to Jayachandra forming an alliance with Ghori to get revenge and kill Prithviraj. Eventually, the movie shows what happened after Prithviraj fainted in the stadium after he killed the lions.

“Samrat Prithviraj” has several mind-numbing battle scenes that should be suspenseful but they actually become very boring after a while. The scenes that don’t take place on a battlefield are just as monotonous. Supporting characters—such as Prithviraj’s closest confidant Chand Vardai (played by Sonu Sood) and Prithviraj’s uncle Kaka Kanha (played by Sanjay Dutt)—are completely underdeveloped.

Worst of all, “Samrat Prithviraj” does very little to make viewers care about the characters, especially because this movie looks more like an overblown fantasy film rather than a historical drama based on real people. Everything about this era’s conflicts between Hindus and Muslims is over-simplified to the point where none of it is believable. “Samrat Prithviraj” shows what can happen when filmmakers take a lot of money and put very little of it to good use.

Yash Raj Films released “Samrat Prithviraj” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on June 3, 2022.

Review: ‘Elvis’ (2022), starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks

June 22, 2022

by Carla Hay

Austin Butler in “Elvis” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Elvis” (2022)

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Culture Representation: Taking place from 1946 to 1977, in various parts of the United States, the dramatic film “Elvis” features a predominantly white group of people (with some African Americans) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy in this biopic of superstar entertainer Elvis Presley.

Culture Clash: Presley had many personal battles in his life, including those related to racial segregation, his drug addiction, his doomed marriage to Priscilla Presley and his troubled relationship with manager Colonel Tom Parker. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of Elvis Presley fans, “Elvis” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and music biopics that go big on spectacle-like filmmaking.

Austin Butler, Helen Thomson, Tom Hanks and Richard Roxburgh in “Elvis” (Photo by Hugh Stewart/Warner Bros. Pictures)

The vibrant biopic “Elvis” continues filmmaker Baz Luhrmann’s pattern of making a protagonist’s life story look like a manic-energy carnival. The musical numbers are fantastic, but viewers should expect a very glossy version of Elvis Presley’s life. Luhrmann directed and co-wrote “Elvis,” and he is one of the movie’s producers. People who are familiar with Luhrmann’s previous movies (including 2001’s “Moulin Rouge!” and 2013’s “The Great Gatsby”) will already know that he isn’t a filmmaker known for being miniminalist or showing restraint.

Luhrmann’s “Elvis,” just like Elvis Presley, is a mass of contradictions but can be counted on to deliver spectacular performances on stage. Even with a total running time of 159 minutes, “Elvis” leaves out or fast-forwards through many important aspects of Presley’s life. But other parts of the movie drag with repetition and linger too long in scenes where the story should have already moved on to something else. Luhrmann co-wrote the “Elvis” screenplay with Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce and Jeremy Doner. The movie was filmed in Luhrmann’s native Australia.

At times, this “Elvis” movie looks like a lengthy music video, with enough quick cuts to give some viewers the cinematic version of whiplash. Other times, “Elvis” attempts to get into the more serious and emotionally complex areas of Presley’s life before zipping off into one of several whirling-dervish montages that fill up this movie. It’s a change of pace and tone that might be off-putting to some viewers who are looking for a more conventional way of telling the story.

For example, the courtship and marriage of Elvis and Priscilla Beaulieu Presley (played by Olivia DeJonge) are very rushed into the story and aren’t given a lot of depth. The movie leaves out the fact that in real life, when Elvis began dating Priscilla in 1959, she was 14 and he was 24. They met when he was enlisted in the U.S. Army and stationed in Germany, where Priscilla’s U.S. Air Force stepfather was also stationed at the time.

In real life, Elvis also convinced Priscilla’s parents to let her move in with him when she was still an underage teen. It’s probably not a coincidence that Priscilla is portrayed by an actress who never looks underage. That’s because bringing up possible stautory rape in connection to Elvis would ruin the movie’s intention to make him look like a superstar who was exploited by a greedy and corrupt manager.

Sometimes, the actors give performances that look like impersonations, while in other scenes, the actors seem to truly embody their characters. This dictonomy is especially true for Austin Butler (who portrays the adult Elvis Presley) and Tom Hanks (who plays manager Colonel Tom Parker), whose love/hate business partnership is the movie’s central conflict. Their best scenes are those where they look the most natural and don’t try to overdo the “larger than life” aspects of their respective characters’ personalities.

Butler’s performance is much better in the scenes depicting Elvis in the last 10 years of his life, when Elvis’ health was on a steady decline due to his drug addiction. (Elvis died of a heart attack in 1977, at the age of 42.) In the scenes of Elvis’ adult years before he became famous and during his fame from the mid-1950s to mid-1960s, Butler just looks like he’s doing a competent Elvis impersonation. The movie starts to improve considerably when Butler shows more emotional depth as the sweaty, “hooked on drugs” version of Elvis, because it’s a portrayal of man who’s on a downward spiral but still desperately trying to stay on top.

Elvis’ controlling manager Parker, whose real name was Andreas Cornelis (Dries) van Kuijk, was born in the Netherlands, but he pretended for years that he was born and raised in the United States. In real life, Parker (who died in 1997, at the age of 87) hid his true identity and undocumented immigration status. This deception is in the movie, but as a plot twist reveal that will not surprise anyone who knows about Parker, or anyone who notices Hanks’ very over-the-top European accent in the movie. There are parts of the movie where Hanks’ prosthetic makeup and his Dutch-like accent are very distracting. Hanks’ accent also sometimes sounds German and sometimes sounds like a western European trying to sound American.

In real life, when Parker was Elvis’ manager, Parker did not have a heavy European accent, as portrayed in this movie. Parker had a very believable American accent in real life. How else would he have been able to fool so many people into thinking that he was a born-and-raised American if he had a European accent? This quasi-European accent is one of the characteristics of Parker that this “Elvis” movie gets wrong.

Because so much of Elvis’ life has already been dissected and depicted in many other ways (including Elvis impersonators becoming both a cottage industry and the butt of a lot of jokes), Luhrmann’s “Elvis” at least takes a unique approach of telling this story with narration from Parker. The movie’s opening scene shows Parker collapsing from a heart attack and taken to a hospital. During this narration, Parker repeatedly says versions of this statement: “Without me, there would be no Elvis Presley. And yet, there are some who would make me the villain of this here story.”

Elvis’ childhood gets a comic-book panel treatment (literally) in this “Elvis” movie, as the movie uses comic book panels and comic-book-type illustrations to show chapter transitions in Elvis’ youth. Born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Aaron Presley is portrayed as someone who was influenced from an early age by music, particularly R&B and gospel music. Elvis had a twin brother named Jessie Garon Presley, who was stillborn. The film briefly mentions the death of Elvis’ twin brother, but the movie does not explore (as other biographies have done) how Elvis was haunted by this death.

Elvis was famously a “mama’s boy” who worshipped his mother Gladys (played by Helen Thomson), who was a strong-willed and dominant force in his life. Elvis’ father Vernon (played by Richard Roxburgh) is portrayed as someone who was often overshadowed by Gladys in Elvis’ eyes. However, Vernon still had a huge influence on Elvis, especially after Parker decided that Vernon should be Elvis’ business manager.

It was a ultimately not a good decision, considering that Vernon had trouble keeping a steady job up until that point, Vernon had no experience as a successful businessperson, and Elvis experienced major financial problems in the years leading up to his death. It also didn’t help that Parker was a gambling addict. The movie portrays Parker’s gambling addiction as one of the reasons why he was so money-hungry and willing to do unscrupulous things to get access to Elvis’ fortune.

When Elvis was 13 years old, he and his family relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, the city that is most closely associated with Elvis’ childhood and young adulthood. (Chaydon Jay has the role of the adolescent Elvis in the movie.) Vernon got into trouble with the law in 1938, when he was imprisoned for eight months for check forgery. As a result of these legal problems, the family lost their home and had to move to a lower-income area that was populated by mostly African Americans.

The movie makes it look like Elvis was the only white kid in his area who was allowed or interested in going to the African American religious church revivals that were held in tents, where he would watch the passionate gospel performances in awe. Elvis was also a fan of R&B music at a time when it was concered “race music” that was only supposed to be performed and enjoyed by black people. Sometimes, Elvis would get teased or harassed for liking this music, but his decision to perform his version of this music ultimately set him on the road to stardom. Elvis was also a fan of country music, which he incorporated into many of his songs.

While an underage Elvis was sneaking into church revivals in tents, the movie shows Parker spending a lot of his time in another type of event that uses tents: carnivals. Parker is portrayed in flashback scenes as a carnival huckster skilled at selling and at coming up with con games. It’s a skill set that Parker brought with him when he decided to go into the music business. The movie takes a little too much time with scenes of Parker managing country artists such as Hank Snow (played by David Wenham) and his son Jimmie Rodgers Snow (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee), a musician who would eventually befriend Elvis.

Later, when Elvis and Parker meet in person, the movie stylishly stages this meeting in a carnival hall of mirrors. It’s an example of how this “Elvis” movie has fantastical elements. In real life, the first time Elvis met Parker was probably in a much more non-descript setting. Catherine Martin (Luhrmann’s wife and filmmaking partner) is a producer of “Elvis” and the leader of the movie’s top-notch costume design and production design.

Elvis’ imitation of African American R&B and early rock and roll (rock pioneers Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Fats Domino were big influences on Elvis) could be considered cultural appropriation or an extreme form of flattery, depending on your perspective. But what most people can agree on is that Elvis’ performance of this music is what caught the attention of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, who is widely considered the person who gave Elvis his first big music break.

Elvis’ early recordings on Sun Records were then brought to the attention of Parker, who is portrayed as someone who couldn’t believe that the singer on the recordings was white, not black. And when Parker sees Elvis perform for the first time, Parker says in a narration voiceover what his first impression of Elvis was: “Greasy hair, girlie makeup. I cannot overstate how strange he looked.”

But what really convinced Parker to want to represent Elvis as his personal manager was seeing the audience reaction (especially from females) that Elvis got when Elvis performed on stage and thrust, shook and swiveled his hips and legs in a sexually suggestive manner. The movie makes a point of showing how these stage moves had a primal effect on women and teenage girls in the audience, as Elvis often got them into a frenzy. Expect to see several scenes of Elvis being branded as “lewd and lascivious” for these stage moves in various scenarios, with the controversy fueling his popularity.

One of the odd things about this “Elvis” movie is that there’s a scene where Elvis is on stage early in his career and his band members are the ones to tell him to wiggle his hips more. If you believe this scenario, Elvis wasn’t the one to come up with these sex symbol moves. He had to be talked into it by his band members. Parker says in his ever-present voiceover narration when commenting on women’s lusty reactions to Elvis: “He was a taste of forbidden fruit.”

The movie correctly shows that it was Parker who convinced Elvis to ditch Sun Records for a more lucrative offer from RCA Records, which had the type of national distribution and radio clout that Sun Records did not. Sun Records released some singles from Elvis in 1954 (including his first single “That’s All Right”), but they weren’t hits. Elvis’ first RCA Records single was 1955’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” which was a smash hit and became his first No. 1 single.

In a flashback voiceover, Parker brags about how he was the first person to create a merchandising bonanza around a pop star. In a very over-the-top scene, Parker shows off a huge stockpile of Elvis-branded merchandise that is cluttered all over a room in a Presley family home. It looks like an Elvis product hoarder decorated the room.

As Elvis became more famous and was spending more time away from home, it started to bother Gladys. The movie has a scene that’s a little on the Oedipal creepy side, where Gladys tells Elvis that she’s worried about the way that his female fans look at him. Gladys acts more like a jealous girlfriend than a mother. And then, Elvis tells his mother, “You’re my girl.”

Elvis’ experiences with groupies are very toned-down in the movie, which has no explicit sex scenes or even explicit sex talk. Priscilla is sidelined for most of the movie. After Priscilla and Elvis get married in 1967, she’s just shown as someone who’s part of his entourage and becomes an increasingly unhappy bystander when he kisses and flirts with female fans at concerts.

For a while, Elvis and Priscilla lived in Los Angeles, but Elvis’ world-famous Graceland estate in Memphis was always considered to be his main home. After Elvis’ death, Elvis Presley Enterprises (which approved this movie) turned Graceland into a tourist attraction. The movie shows some of Elvis’ indulgences, including his lavish spending habits and his tendency to carry around a lot of guns. As expected, there’s a scene of a drug-addled Elvis destroying a TV set by shooting it up with a gun—something that he was known to do in real life from time to time.

Lisa Marie Presley (Elvis and Priscilla’s daughter, who was born in 1968) appears briefly in a few scenes. Priscilla’s breakup scene with Elvis is predictably melodramatic. She screams at him that she’s leaving him not because of his infidelities but because of his addiction to pills. Priscilla throws pills at Elvis before walking out the door. Priscilla and Elvis divorced in 1973, but their legal battles are never shown in the movie. Near the end of the film, there’s a tearjerking scene that’s the final word on their ill-fated romance.

Elvis’ movie star career is rushed through in a series of scenes that culminate with the media reporting that Elvis was cast as Barbra Streisand’s co-star in a 1976 remake of “A Star Is Born,” in which he would be playing a drug-addicted, has-been rock star. Elvis experiences the embarrassment of hearing a radio announcer comment that Elvis wouldn’t have to do much acting for this role. Elvis, who had been trying with no success to become a serious dramatic actor, never did this remake of “A Star Is Born.” Kris Kristofferson ended up in the role.

With his movie career going nowhere, Elvis continues as a Las Vegas attraction at the International Hotel (which is now the Las Vegas Hilton), and as an artist doing several successful U.S. tours. Elvis wants to tour outside the U.S., but Parker keeps coming up with excuses for Elvis not to do these international tours. When the truth is exposed about why Parker is holding back on working outside the U.S., it leads to a turning point in the relationship between Elvis and Parker.

One of the more curious aspects of “Elvis” is that it doesn’t spend a lot of time showing Elvis in the recording studio. He was not a songwriter for almost all of his hits (an exception was his co-songwriting credit for “Heartbreak Hotel”), but this biopic doesn’t provide much insight into how he worked in a recording studio setting. And this “Elvis” movie doesn’t have any significant scenes of actors portraying the major songwriters (including Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) who were responsible for writing Elvis’ biggest hits.

However, the movie has several scenes acknowledging the artists who inspired Elvis. Big Mama Thornton (played by Shonka Dukureh) is seen belting out “Hound Dog,” a song that was famously covered by Elvis. Little Richard (played by Alton Mason) appears briefly in a performance clip. During a media event, Elvis points to Fats Domino and says that Domino is the real King of Rock and Roll.

Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup (played by Gary Clark Jr.), Sister Rosetta Tharpe (played by Yola) and Mahalia Jackson (played by Cle Morgan) have small roles in the movie. B.B. King (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Elvis became mutual admirers of each other, and the movie briefly shows that friendship. If these influential African American artists are shown performing in the movie, it’s for a very limited amount of screen time.

The movie shows glimpses of Elvis being a concerned citizen who wanted to get involved in the civil rights movement, but he was ordered by Parker never to talk about politics in public. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy (both in 1968) and the civil unrest in the U.S. in the late 1960s are all portrayed as media news backdrops to Elvis’ personal problems, while Parker gripes about how America is going downhill because of the hippie counterculture movement. Just like many other Elvis biographies, the movie depicts Elvis as becoming more isolated the older he got and the deeper he got into drug addiction.

Elvis’ entourage, which was famously called the Memphis Mafia, is portrayed as not much more than being a bunch of “yes men” in the movie. The one who gets the most screen time is Jerry Schiller (played by Luke Bracey), who’s mostly seen acting like a personal assistant/security employee. A few of the other Memphis Mafia members portrayed in the movie are Steve Binder (played by Dacre Montgomery), Bones Howe (played by Gareth Davies) and Scotty Moore (played by Xavier Samuel), who don’t do or say anything noteworthy.

Because Elvis was a drug addict, the movie shows that he had his own Dr. Feelgood on the payroll to give injections and pills of whatever drugs were requested. In the movie, this enabling doctor is called Dr. Nick (played by Tony Nixon), and he’s based on the real-life Dr. George Nichopoulos, whose nickname was Dr. Nick. Just like in the movie, the real-life Dr. Nick had a reputation for being a drug supplier to many celebrities, including Elvis. The movie shows that Elvis was mostly addicted to amphetamines and opioids.

A harrowing scene in the movie shows Elvis collapsing backstage during a concert. Members of his entourage frantically try to revive him, but to no avail. The decision must be made to take Elvis to a hospital, or summon Dr. Nick to give Elvis an injection so that Elvis can continue the show. You can easily guess what decision was made in a world where people live by the rule “The show must go on.” The movie makes a point of implying that this scenario happened too many times behind the scenes, and it led to Elvis’ downward spiral.

None of this is really shocking because there have already been so many exposés of Elvis’ private life, there’s really almost no new information to uncover. Luhrmann’s “Elvis” movie isn’t concerned about being a celebrity “tell all” biopic as much as it is concerned about presenting Elvis’ life in ways that are served up like it’s on a conveyor belt and in other ways like it’s part of a splashy musical.

In other words, “Elvis” is a very mixed bag, but it shines the best and brightest in the area that matters the most: showing Elvis as a music artist. The movie has performances of Elvis hits such as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “That’s All Right,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” “Suspicious Minds” and “Heartbreak Hotel.” Butler does very good renditions of some these classics, with standout show-stoppers depicting Elvis’ 1968 “comeback” TV special (“Elvis” on NBC) and some of his performances in Las Vegas.

The movie’s soundtrack also has some contemporary, hip-hop-infused remakes of classic songs, such as Doja Cat’s version of “Vegas” and Swae Lee and Diplo’s version of Crudup’s “Tupelo Shuffle,” a song that Elvis also recorded. Eminem’s original song “The King and I”(featuring CeeLo Green) is also part of the movie’s soundtrack. These songs don’t sound completely out of place in the movie, but the contemporary music does take viewers out of the 1950s to 1970s, the decades when Elvis made his music. However, “Elvis” is definitely a crowd pleaser in being a feast of Elvis music, as it should be.

“Suspicious Minds” is the most prominently used Elvis song in the movie. Even though the lyrics are about lovers who’ve lost trust in each other, “Suspicious Minds” could also be a theme song about the growing mistrust in the deteriorating relationship between Elvis and Parker. How much did Parker really play a role in causing Elvis’ downfall? The movie leaves it up to viewers to decide. Even with all of Elvis’ pitfalls and self-destructive excesses, “Elvis” has a clear message that any problems he had in his life were always surpassed by his love of performing and connecting with his fans.

Warner Bros. Pictures will release “Elvis” in U.S. cinemas on June 24, 2022. The movie was released in other countries on June 22, 2022.

Review: ‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,’ starring the voice of Jenny Slate

June 21, 2022

by Carla Hay

Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) in “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” (Image courtesy of A24)

“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”

Directed by Dean Fleischer Camp

Culture Representation: Taking place in Los Angeles, the animated/live-action film “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” has a nearly all-white cast of characters (with one Latina) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A young male seashell and his grandmother, who are living by themselves in an Airbnb rental house after their other family members have gone missing, have to adjust to a new life when a documentary filmmaker moves into the house.

Culture Audience: “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” will appeal primarily to people who like quirky films that blend animation with live action.

Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) and Dean Fleischer Camp in “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” (Image courtesy of A24)

“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” could have been an excessively cute film about tiny sea shells with human-like characteristics, but this unique movie is an offbeat charmer with an appealing mix of comedy and sentimentality about life and love. The movie has an artistic blend of live action and stop-motion animation that looks organic, not forced. And although there are some parts of the film that get repetitive and not all of the jokes land well, the positive aspects of “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” far outnumber any of the movie’s small flaws. “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” had its world premiere at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival and made the rounds at other film festivals, including South by Southwest (SXSW), the Seattle International Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival.

The origin story of “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” is self-referenced throughout the movie, which has a plot that’s similar to how the movie’s title character first became an international sensation. In real life, filmmaker Dean Fleischer Camp and actress Jenny Slate did a series of short comedy videos called “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,” beginning in 2010. In these videos, Slate voiced the character of Marcel, a talkative one-inch sea shell with one eye, human feet and a wryly observant and inquisitive view of life. Based on the way that Marcel talks, he has the intelligence and emotional maturity of a human boy who’s about 9 or 10 years old.

These videos about Marcel became a worldwide hit on the Internet and inspired children’s books written by Slate and Flesicher Camp. And now, there’s an entire movie about Marcel. The feature film “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,” directed by Fleischer Camp (who co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with Slate and Nick Paley) takes viewers on Marcel’s often-emotional journey to find his missing family members. Marcel lives in a middle-class house somewhere in Los Angeles, where the unmarried human couple named Larissa (played by Rosa Salazar) and Mark (played by Thomas Mann), who previously occupied the house had a bitter breakup. The house is now being used as an Airbnb rental.

Marcel’s wise and practical grandmother Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) is Marcel’s only family member who hasn’t gone missing. Among the those who have gone missing in Marcel’s family (they are all one-eyed small shells with feet) are Marcel’s parents Mario and Connie and Marcel’s brother Justin. What bothers Marcel and Connie the most is that they didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, and they have no idea where the other family members went. Marcel and Connie have photos and illustrations of their family members as visual mementos.

Marcel and Connie have a very close relationship. She often teaches Marcel things about life, often in answer to Marcel’s seemingly endless stream of questions. Connie and Marcel also love to watch “60 Minutes” together and are big fans of “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl. Marcel describes Connie as very independent and resourceful. For example, Marcel says that Connie taught herself how to farm. Connie also loves to garden and spends a lot of her time in the home’s garden.

At times, Marcel has a childlike wonder and curiosity about the modern world. Other times, he has a simple clarity about how to react to difficulties or problems because he doesn’t have as much emotional baggage or insecurity as someone who is an adult. Throughout the movie, there are whimsical moments and more serious moments where Marcel’s personality and quirks get various reactions to those around him.

In the beginning of the movie, Marcel says that he and Connie are living by themselves in the house, along with their pet lint named Alan. Their solitude ends when an Airbnb renter moves into the house with his white terrier mix dog named Arthur. He’s a mild-mannered filmmaker named Dean Fleischer-Camp (playing a version of himself), who needs a new place to stay because he has recently separated from his wife. In a case of art imitating life, Slate and Fleischer Camp (who used to spell his surname as Fleischer-Camp) got married in 2012 and then got divorced in 2016.

As expected, Marcel is curious about the house’s new human resident, and the feeling is mutual. It takes Marcel much longer to get used to Arthur, Dean’s dog, since Marcel is sometimes annoyed by how the dog smells and keeps interrupting Marcel like a curious and playful dog would do. Marcel shows Dean around the house, including the potted plant where Marcel sleeps on a slice of bread. Marcel describes where he sleeps as his “breadroom.”

Marcel might seem like a precocious child, but he doesn’t know a lot about modern technology. Dean tells Marcel that he’s making an online documentary. Marcel’s response is “Online? You lost me.” Eventually, Dean shows Marcel how the Internet works when Dean begins posting videos of Marcel online. The videos become an international sensation, with Marcel developing a huge fan base. (Sound familiar?)

Marcel is overwhelmed and often flabbergasted by all this newfound attention. However, he thinks it can be put to good use when he asks Dean to help get the word out about Marcel’s missing family members. You can easily predict which TV news show might get involved. Someone who doesn’t really want to get too caught up in the fanfare is Connie, who is very skeptical of the Internet and all modern technology.

The first third of “Marcel the Shell With the Shoes On” seems like a series of skits weaved together, with a lot of wisecracking remarks from Marcel, as he and Dean start to get to know each other and eventually become friends. The other two-thirds of the movie begin to have more substance when it story focuses more on the search for Marcel’s family members. The movie has themes of love, heartbreak and grief that are handled with sensitivity without being mawkish.

For example, Marcel begins to notice after a while that Dean is very curious about Marcel, but Dean is very reluctant to talk about himself. And it’s not just because Dean wants to be an journalistic documentarian. Dean is having difficulty processing the breakup of his marriage.

Dean’s preoccupation with Marcel’s problems are a way for him to cope or avoid his own personal problems. The movie doesn’t fully show Dean on camera until a pivotal part of the story when he’s essentially forced to talk about himself. It’s a clever way that the movie has Dean “coming out of the shadows” that reflect his own willingness to be open up more about himself and show more vulnerability. Fleischer Camp gives a solid performance, but the character of Dean seems to know that Marcel is the real star of the show.

“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” has terrific voice work from Slate and Rossellini, who make an endearing and believable duo as a grandparent and grandchild. Connie isn’t a new character, but this movie is the first time that Connie gets her own backstory and story arc. Not everything in “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” is comedic, since the movie has some tearjerking moments that might catch some viewers by surprise. In a cinematic era when animated/live-action hybrid films are so focused on dazzling viewers with big adventures that are visual spectacles, it’s nice to have a movie like “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” that focuses more on everyday emotional connections and appreciating loved ones during life’s difficulties.

A24 will release “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” in select U.S. cinemas on June 24, 2022, with an expansion to more U.S. cinemas on July 15, 2022.

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